Student campaign aims to get businesses on board

Scottish Border Campus internship campaign launch. From left, Laura Gregson, students union vice president, Katy Barr, preseident and Joanne Thomas, 2nd. year fashion student.
Scottish Border Campus internship campaign launch. From left, Laura Gregson, students union vice president, Katy Barr, preseident and Joanne Thomas, 2nd. year fashion student.
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A campaign devised in Galashiels to ensure students get a fairer deal from unpaid work experience has won political and national backing.

The Unpaid Internship initiative started by Heriot-Watt’s Scottish Borders Student Union has received support from Borders MP Michael Moore and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP.

The National Union of Students has also thrown its weight behind the project, which is to be discussed at its national conference later this year.

The NUS helped launch a new booklet to accompany the campaign on Thursday, giving advice to students in an effort to improve working conditions ahead of summer placements, which are vital for fashion and textile students wishing to secure employment in the industry.

Katie Barr, president of Scottish Borders Campus student union, told The Southern: “Our campaign aims are to promote good practice and make all internships student-friendly.

“We believe that it is important for all interns to be fairly treated and in an effort to achieve this we have came up with an internship pledge that we will be sending out to local companies, which will ask them to agree to a set of good practice principals to help improve the working conditions for interns.

“In return, the companies who chose to sign the form will be given the Heriot-Watt stamp of approval.”
The leaflet includes dos and don’ts at placements, as well as tips on cheap housing, eating on a budget and travel costs.

The initiative will be one of Miss Barr’s final acts in her two-year stint as president – Jonathon Andrews takes over in June.