What is cooperative education at UL?

Active engagement with industry and empowerment through employability are founding principles of University of Limerick. At UL, we believe that the worlds of academia and work offer complementary opportunities for learning.

The Cooperative Education work placement programme is a core element of the UL student experience and exposes students to the world of work, with its differing environments, demands and expectations. Cooperative Education is a formal, academically accredited and compulsory programme and is offered to students across all faculties. With over 2,600 placements secured annually, Coop at UL is one of the largest placement programmes in Europe. The reach of the programme is also significant, involving a network of 600 employers, both national and international.

The compulsory and inclusive nature of Cooperative Education Programme makes it unique in the Irish and European contexts, with students eligible for placement, regardless of discipline and vocational orientation, academic standing and skills profile. It is a tangible manifestation of the value of switching the location of learning and knowledge between the classroom and the workplace. It is this reinforcement of dual learning that enables UL graduates to transition successfully into the world of work and to experience one of the highest levels of graduate employment nationally.

Why take a co-op student from UL?

Co-op is centrally managed by the Cooperative Education & Careers Division, providing a structured service from throughout the recruitment process. The programme is designed to provide employers with the definitive 'front door’ to top talent.

Prior to undertaking their placements, students participate in a series of Employability Programmes and Career Development Workshops, including mock interviews, CV reviews and bespoke information sessions, preparing them for the transition to the workplace.

8 Benefits to your organisation from taking a co-op student from UL

  1. Motivated and Energetic Workforce: Co-op students bring a fresh wave of enthusiasm and motivation to your team. They are eager to learn, contribute, and make the most of their co-op experience, which often translates into a high-energy, productive work environment.
  2. Future Planning: Taking co-op students allows you to evaluate potential full-time employees in a real-world setting. Create a future pipeline of highly skilled talent, who are already familiar with your organisation.
  3. Flexibility: Co-op students can provide flexibility in your workforce. They can provide support during peak periods or work on special projects over the course of their 6–8-month placement, providing an adaptable workforce solution.
  4. Higher Retention: Studies have shown that employers who hire their co-op students for full-time positions after graduation tend to have higher retention rates.
  5. Diverse Talent Pool: Co-op is a compulsory programme for all UL students across all disciplines this offers access to a diverse talent pool. This diversity can foster innovation and drive your business forward.
  6. Knowledge Transfer: Co-op students are up to date with the latest industry innovations, trends, and technologies. This knowledge can be shared with your team, helping your company stay competitive.
  7. Fresh Perspectives: Co-op students can offer fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to problems. Their unique viewpoints can lead to improved processes and new ways of thinking within your organisation.
  8. Increased Productivity: With their eagerness to learn and contribute, co-op students can boost productivity. They can take on meaningful work, freeing up your experienced staff to focus on more complex tasks.

The UL Cooperative Education Programme is a great avenue to recruit and develop fresh and bright talent! The eight-month placement period enables both the student and the business to gain a wealth of value from the experience.”

8 months give enough time for the student to make a useful contribution and give them a chance to learn how industry works.

“They were a great addition to the team. He settled in with ease and opened up the minds of the rest of the team to new ideas and opportunities to drive improvement.