What is Cooperative Education?
At the University of Limerick, we believe that the worlds of academia and work offer complementary opportunities for learning. The Cooperative Education (Coop) 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. Coop is a formal, academically accredited and compulsory programme and is offered to students across all faculties. Students are required to undertake a six-to-eight-month placement in second or third year of their four-year degree. The timing and duration of placement are prescribed according to the placement calendar of the programme of study.
With over 2,600 placements secured annually, Cooperative Education at UL is one of the largest placement programmes in Europe. The reach of the programme is also significant, involving a network of 4,000 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 locus of learning and knowledge between the classroom and the workplace. As such, students have the opportunity to develop and apply a range of understandings and competences that they could not acquire in either single context.
What are the benefits of Cooperative Education for students?
Your Coop placement should help you to:
- build your self-confidence by working with others
- put your academic knowledge into practice
- improve your employability
- find out about yourself
- broaden your knowledge base
- understand different cultures, if working overseas
- help you to develop skills such as teamworking, decision-making, communication, numeracy
- learn about the work environment and how it operates
- make decisions about your future career
- learn how to fit into an organisation
What do past UL students say about Cooperative Education Programme?
“Everything about my Coop experience put me out of my comfort zone. But it was the best experience of my life, the one I will never forget. I learned so much about marketing and the working environment from my colleagues. I will use this knowledge for the rest of my life.”
“I really enjoyed my placement. I learned so much and I feel it was a valuable experience. I now feel ready to enter into the world of work after I complete my degree.”
“My entire experience was one amazing lesson on how to conduct myself and develop myself personally and professionally.”
“I did my Coop in an education institute just outside of Buenos Aires. I’m not going to say that it was easy because it was tough for starters but I can honestly say that it was the most amazing experience of my life. I got great teaching experience but I also got to learn so much about a fantastic part of the world. My Spanish is mucho mejor too!”
“My Coop experience was completely life-changing. It totally changed my mind on my career focus for the future.”
“It was a brilliant experience, gave me an insight into how a software development environment really works in a business.”
What do employers say about the Cooperative Education Programme at UL?
“The programme places students at a significant advantage over graduates from other Universities, as upon entry to their first professional position the student has already gained a huge amount of experience around what is expected of an employee and also how to conduct oneself in an office environment.”
“Excellent opportunity for students to gain industry experience which compliments the academic study undertaken as part of their education. Gives useful insight into working in industry which will help to guide future career choices.”
“I believe that the Cooperative Education Programme represents an excellent bridge from student to professional life. The internship in companies not only prepares students for the working world but also gives them the possibility to apply the knowledge they gained during their studies and to understand the importance of having a solid academic background.”
“Program represents an excellent opportunity for career development and remains the best platform for interested and motivated students to gain a solid grounding in the field.”
“It is an incredibly effective programme and allows students to get a real understanding of what life will be like after college”.
"This is a fantastic initiative for students to get on the job, practical training so that they can enhance their future career and work prospects.”