Lazy Hefce's easy way out

October 30, 2008

The Higher Education Funding Council for England confuses employability with graduate employment rates in its latest conjecture about the value of a graduate employment indicator ("Hefce moots linking cash to employability", 23 October).

It blatantly disregards the essence of employability and implicitly advances the ridiculous "magic bullet" thesis: providing employability development so institutions can simplistically measure post-graduation employment rates.

A more sophisticated model involves the extracurricular experiences of the student, the nature and level of engagement with university employability development opportunities, and students' ability to reflect on and articulate these experiences, aided by the pedagogy and support provided within the institution.

If Hefce can come up with a sensible, but extremely difficult, indicator that captures an institution's contribution to employability, that may add to the workforce upskilling agenda. While they take the lazy way out by measuring graduate employment, they will, as Roger Brown, professor of higher education at Liverpool Hope University, says, be playing a dangerous game.

Lee Harvey, Birmingham.

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