The 1994 Group of research-intensive universities including Durham, York and St Andrew's seeks for volunteers with "excellent communication and analytical skills" and a "demonstrable interest in higher education". The job deals with communications, policy work, social media and events.
Ben Lyons, co-director of Intern Aware, considers that by doing this, the 1994 Group is failing graduates overall. "Working for free is impossible for the majority of graduates. We cannot have a situation in which young people are only able to start a career in education through the support of the Bank of Mum and Dad."
As the 1994 Group focuses mainly on improving student experience and employability it came as a surprise for many people that they it is seeking unpaid 'volunteer' graduates for admin jobs. Heather Collier, director of the National Council for Work Experience, says that it is quite unusual because "many universities take a very strict stance on advertising unpaid placements or internships in their careers service". She says that although some organizations say they need "volunteers" and whatever the job title is, all workers should be paid.
The 1994 Group argues and points out that its internships are performed on a volunteer basis. A spokeswoman says: "The 1994 Group believes in providing worthwhile opportunities for graduates, which enhances their learning of work place practices. The group does so in the form of internships, which are undertaken by the individual on a volunteer basis."
However, a two-day-a-week commitment to do certain tasks during three or five months hardly fits the definition of volunteering. Heather Collier believes that as modern graduates do not live in an ideal world where they would definitely be paid, they need to be proactive.
She noticed in her essay: "We do have to be careful about letting our fear of exploitation prevent genuine opportunities that can help young people starting out to get valuable experience. Interns shouldn't put all the responsibility on the employers not to exploit them. An internship should be a mutually equitable arrangement, which is beneficial to both parties, so the graduate needs to have clear objectives about the length of the internship, and what they want to achieve."