UK universities may be falling short of quality assurance requirements by failing to offer employability training to students enrolled on transnational programmes, a report warns.
A study by the Higher Education Academy, due to be published on 4 June, says that activities designed to help students develop transferable skills such as team-working and leadership appear to be less widespread on overseas courses than they are on domestic equivalents.
More than half of the 66 recent alumni of transnational programmes who were interviewed reported no experience of any learning element, activity or support that could be considered to enhance employability, say authors Robin Mellors-Bourne, Elspeth Jones and Steve Woodfield.
The report, Transnational Education and Employability Development, finds that employability support is most clearly aligned with domestic provision at international branch campuses, but is “rarely visible” where UK qualifications are delivered by overseas partners.
In these cases, the researchers found only “sporadic” instances of employability development being embedded into the curriculum, and only a minority of alumni reported having been offered co-curricular support such as careers advice or help with CV writing.
The report says that potential reasons for the differing levels of support in partnership arrangements may include local staff not having the same conceptualisation of employability development or the skills to deliver it as well as institutions operating from premises that were physically “less conducive” to offering such activities. In addition, many students of transnational courses are already employed, so they may perceive less value in co-curricular or extracurricular support.
But there is a quality assurance requirement for institutions that provide transnational programmes to offer learning and development that is comparable to their UK courses.
Stephanie Marshall, chief executive of the HEA, said that this extended to employability. “Students need to be reassured that they are getting a comparable learning experience,” she said.