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Improving internship practices

At the University of Oxford, our objective is to ensure that all professional internships facilitated through our Internship Office are high quality, and offer our students opportunities to develop skills and gain experience to help them transition from education to work.  We want all internship applicants to feel confident that their internship experience will be the best they can expect and of a good standard, regardless of job function, sector and country.

Our mission, therefore, is for all internship hosts to provide good quality placements that are remunerated correctly for the work they expect interns to undertake.

The Internship Office at the University of Oxford supports Transparency At Work – the European Commission-funded initiate to promote work transparency for those undertaking internships.

To help internship hosts offer high quality internships, we suggest that they follow the six Quality Indicators below.

Quality indicators

1 – Remuneration

Internship hosts should:

  • Commit to remunerating their interns at least 80% of the cost of the intern’s subsistence (the amount required for interns to keep themselves)*

*If unable to provide this level of remuneration, internship hosts should consider two options:

  1. reducing the hours that an intern is expected to work and to provide them with other opportunities, such as learning a language, paid work, or training.
  2. offering benefits in kind, eg, free housing, free/discounted food, transport.

In the UK, private sector employers have to abide by minimum wage legislation. The UK Government webpages have a useful guide to the minimum wage policy.  International internship hosts will have to comply with local employment legislation; they should also provide remuneration similar to equivalent entry level roles within the industry.

2 – Offer & Contract

Internship hosts should:

  • Offer a clear description of the projects and tasks that the intern is expected to perform. If they have to be revised subsequently, it should be in agreement with the intern.

3 – Learning & Content

As far as reasonably practicable, internship hosts should:

  • Indicate what skills the intern could acquire during their internship
  • Assign challenging tasks and projects with a high degree of responsibility
  • Make sure that the intern is provided with formal and informal training so that they are able to undertake the projects and tasks to which they are assigned
  • Limit the assignment of unskilled tasks

4 – Supervision

Internship hosts should:

  • Assign a supervisor to each intern, with a ratio not exceeding 3 interns to 1 supervisor
  • Organise an introductory meeting with the intern to discuss mutual expectations, as well as learning and professional objectives of the internship
  • Organise regular sessions at least once a week where the supervisor tracks the intern’s progress, gives feedback or provides support
  • Structure the intern’s tasks within a work plan & a timeline (which can be revised with the intern)

5 – Organisation Culture & Work Environment

Internship hosts should:

  • Schedule some time to introduce the intern to colleagues and the new work place including facilities and health and safety procedures; explain the organisation’s objectives and values
  • Acknowledge and value the intern’s contribution and achievements (e.g., public acknowledgement, name on publication, bonuses etc.)
  • Provide each intern with an appropriate work station (desk, computer, software, etc.)
  • Make the intern feel part of the team (include them in team building activities and celebrations)

6 – Career Development & Employment

  • Provide the intern with a reference letter detailing the work undertaken/completed, the skills and experience acquired
  • Organise one or more meetings between the intern and the management of the organisation to discuss their future career prospects and potential support
  • Help the intern develop a strong professional network by fostering their participation in meetings, interactions and projects with clients & partners, as well as networking events
Host roles & responsibilities

The Summer Internship Programme

The host organisation on the Summer Internship Programme has the responsibility to:

  • Provide an accurate and reasonably detailed description of the internship project(s) offered, including an overview of the duties and skills required of the ideal candidate(s)
  • Select intern(s) from the pool of applicants who apply through the programme.  Telephone (or face-to-face) interviews should be conducted, and direct contact established with potential interns. Reasonable travel expenses must be provided for face-to-face interviews.
  • Provide the internship project as described (or an appropriate alternative project, subject to prior discussion with the Internship Office and the student(s))
  • Provide intern(s) with an appropriate work-space and equipment necessary to carry out the internship project work
  • Designate a point of contact within the organisation, who will discuss practical arrangements with the intern before their arrival, supervise the intern(s), and act as the primary contact for communications with the University of Oxford
  • Provide the intern(s) with a stipend and/or other assistance (for example, accommodation), as agreed with the Internship Office prior to the start of the internship
  • Comply with local health and safety obligations in relation to the internship(s)
  • Provide assurance that your organisation’s insurance will cover potential liability that may arise from the internship(s)
  • Where necessary, sponsor the student for a visa covering the duration of the placement
  • Provide feedback to the University of Oxford by evaluating the intern(s) at the end of the placement
  • Make any necessary and reasonable adjustments to accommodate interns in the case of disability or additional needs, in accordance with the the Equality Act 2010 and the University of Oxford Equality Policy.

Moritz-Heyman Internship Programme Host Roles and Responsibilities

The host organisation on the Moritz-Heyman Internship Programme has the following responsibilities:

  • Provide an accurate and reasonably detailed description of the internship project(s) offered, including an overview of the duties and skills required of the ideal candidate(s)
  • Select intern(s) from the pool of applicants who apply through the programme.  Telephone (or face-to-face) interviews should be conducted, and direct contact established with potential interns. Reasonable travel expenses must be provided for face-to-face interviews.
  • Provide the internship project as described (or an appropriate alternative project subject to prior discussion with the University and the student(s))
  • Provide intern(s) with an appropriate work-space and equipment necessary to carry out the internship project work
  • Designate a point of contact within the organisation, who will discuss practical arrangements with the intern before their arrival, supervise the intern(s), and act as the primary contact for communications with the University of Oxford
  • Provide the intern(s) with a stipend and/or other assistance (for example, accommodation), as agreed with the Internship Office prior to the start of the internship
  • Comply with UK health and safety legislation in relation to the internship(s)
  • Provide assurance that your organisation’s insurance will cover potential liability that may arise from the internship(s)
  • Provide feedback to the University of Oxford by evaluating the intern(s) at the end of the placement.
  • Make any necessary and reasonable adjustments to accommodate interns in the case of disability or additional needs, in accordance with the the Equality Act 2010 and the University of Oxford Equality Policy.

Micro-Internship Host Roles and Responsibilities:

The host organisation on the Micro-Internship Programme has the following responsibilities:

  • Provide an accurate and reasonably detailed description of the internship offered, including an overview of the skills required by the ideal candidate(s)
  • Select intern(s) from the pool of applicants who apply through the programme within the agreed time-frame (this will be communicated by email from the Internship Office)
  • Provide the internship as described (or an appropriate alternative subject to prior discussion with the University and the student(s))
  • Provide intern(s) with an appropriate space and any equipment necessary to carry out their internship;
  • Fully reimburse intern(s) with travel expenses (within the relevant city) and lunch expenses for the duration of the internship (on provision of receipts).
  • Designate a point of contact within the organisation, who will discuss practical arrangements with the intern before their arrival, support the intern(s), and act as the primary contact for communications with the University of Oxford
  • Comply with local health and safety obligations in relation to the internship(s)
  • Provide assurance that your organisation’s insurance will cover potential liability that may arise from the internship(s)
  • Provide feedback to the University of Oxford by evaluating the intern(s) at the end of the placement
  • Abide by the spirit of the University of Oxford Equality Policy.
This information was last updated on 25 September 2017.
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