Internships will normally last for no longer than 12 weeks and an intern should be given a defined project, which creates real value for the internship provider and the intern. The intern should have interaction with an assigned supervisor or mentor within the sponsoring department.
Guidance for managers about how to engage interns within the University
An internship is typically a short period of work offered to a student during a vacation, or a recent graduate, during which the individual undertakes some work needed by the University, and in return gains valuable work experience and an appropriate level of pay.
The University also runs schemes in which students, in the context of their studies and under supervision, gain experience of work methods and learn skills related to their course of study; these are classed as work experience or studentships and do not attract payment.
The University runs an Internships Programme for Oxford University students through the Careers Service and departments wishing to offer an internship through this route should contact the Careers Service for further information.
If a school-age person undertakes a very short period of work experience within the University which typically involves shadowing, observing, etc the purpose of which is simply to experience a work place and different types of job, rather than to undertake any meaningful work on behalf of the University, then this is classed as ‘work experience’ and this does not attract payment.
Interns do not hold formally graded posts but an appropriate equivalent grade for the work should be identified by reference to University’s grading structure. Departments may find the generic grade and category descriptions useful in deciding the appropriate rate of pay and can seek advice on the appropriate level for a casual engagement from the reward team. However, a full job description and grading application is not required, and a description of the project and expectations of the individual is likely to be more appropriate.
It is anticipated that most internships posts will be judged to be equivalent to support staff roles, in the light of the extensive supervision and guidance that will be provided.
Once an equivalent grade has been identified an appropriate equivalent hourly rate of pay within the grade should be agreed by reference to the casual pay spine which can be downloaded from the casual worker guidance. The intern should be paid at the point that equates to their level of experience. In most cases, the interns will be placed on the lowest pay point in the grade.
Please note that the University does not pay those engaged as casuals at the National Minimum Wage, but at a point on the Salary and Grading Structure, as outlined above and in accordance with the University's Living Wage employer accreditation. This includes interns.
Interns should be set up as casual engagements, with a casual letter of engagement and not a contract of employment. Departments must use the letter of engagement, because it ensures the University fulfils its obligations, such as under health and safety and pensions legislation, and also defines both the University and the intern’s responsibilities with regard to key issues such as Intellectual Property, Confidentiality, Data Protection, Computer misuse, etc.
Departments should undertake standard pre-employment checks for all staff, including interns. This includes right to work checks, references and may include a pre-employment health check, if appropriate. High-level checks, including Disclosure and Barring Service checks may be required for individuals recruited to particularly sensitive areas, for example those undertaking close, unsupervised work with children or vulnerable adults).
As many interns will be students, care should be taken to ensure that students from outside the EEA are permitted to undertake the work offered to them under the terms of their visa. For further information please contact the Staff immigration team.
In common with other casual workers, interns are eligible for other statutory minimum entitlements regarding holiday, sickness, maternity, etc. Holiday entitlement is therefore 28 days. See: calculating leave for casual workers.
Under auto-enrolment legislation, casual workers have the right to opt in to the NEST pension scheme from the first day of engagement. However, they will only be assessed for auto-enrolment (and automatically enrolled) if their engagement continues beyond 12 weeks.