Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions Launches Fall Seminar Series Nov. 5

Public Talk on Comparative Study of Internships in China and the U.S.

October 30, 2018

On Monday, Nov. 5, noon to 1 p.m, the Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (CCWT), part of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research in UW–Madison’s School of Education, will host the first talk, “Internships and Experiential Learning in a Chinese University: A Report from the Field,” of its fall 2018 seminar series.

Matthew Hora, founding director of CCWT, will report preliminary results from a recent research trip to Tianjin, China, where he spent 2.5 weeks conducting a study using interviews and data analysis of the relationship between Chinese internship program design and student outcomes. The research was funded by Tianjin University.

Providing broad context for his research, Hora explains, “Internships are being embraced around the world as a co-curricular activity that promises to help students acquire work-ready skills, develop professional networks and apply their academic knowledge to real-world tasks. But research indicates that internships are not a panacea or a magic bullet, but can be poorly designed, even disadvantageous, to college students’ education and job prospects.”

He elaborates, “This concern is particularly relevant to Chinese higher education, where evidence of high school and college ‘interns’ replacing full-time employees on factory floors has led to reports of alleged unlawful and forced labor practices on student interns. At factories owned by technology companies like Quanta and Foxconn, student interns have been found working 40-50 hours a week doing menial labor completely unrelated to their education.”

Hora pursues this research during a time when Chinese higher education is in the midst of a significant expansion prompted by government investment and institutional growth. Internships are a core part of the government’s strategy to make China’s capacity for research and innovation competitive with the U.S. and Europe.

“I went to China to see first-hand how a major research university was approaching work-based learning for its college students. I was motivated out of an innate curiosity about how other cultures design their educational systems and programs, and a belief that comparative analyses can shed new light on strengths, weaknesses and opportunities across different national systems,” Hora says.  

The talk at noon on Nov. 5 will take place in the Wisconsin Idea Room (Rm. 159) in the UW-Madison Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall. A searchable online map of the UW-Madison campus can be accessed here.    

CCWT’s Fall Seminar Series is open to the public and the center enthusiastically invites all stakeholders in its research areas to attend. CCWT also welcomes journalists and other members of the media who cover higher education, work and the labor market to attend and connect with the center to inform crucial reporting for the public,who may benefit from learning about CCWT research insights.

CCWT will hold the second talk in its fall seminar series on Nov. 24 at noon on recent research that makes a crucial contribution to the extensive national debate over “middle skill” jobs.