Employers ‘should participate more' in HE provision

Employers should have more of a say in the design and delivery of the curriculum at universities in order to produce “work-ready” graduates

January 17, 2015

That is among the recommendations from a new report by the Quality Assurance Agency, which follows a study of reviews carried out by the body into 200 universities and colleges since 2010.

Students studying in institutions with strong employer engagement leave higher education with the skills necessary for the workplace, according to the analysis.

The report recommends that students should be given the opportunity to take up more work placements, and employers should be given the chance to monitor courses and even the create study programmes.

It also calls for academic staff to be given greater opportunities to keep on top of developments within their industry.

The QAA’s head of engagement, Chris Taylor, said employability was “a massive driver for higher education students at this time”.

“So it’s really important that we support both students and providers in trying to understand what is successful in this area, and how collectively we can build upon it,” he said.

The QAA’s report will be followed up in April by a primary research project conducted by the University of Warwick and market research firm IFF on the impact of employability initiatives offered by universities and colleges to their students.

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Reader's comments (3)

Engineering, technology and business courses commonly require HE students undertake related work placements during the summer vacations, or offer the sandwich type degree. Also accreditation of a degree by a Professional Institute whose representatives are invariably from industry and commerce, also perhaps represent a viable model to engage. The extension of PhD training centres to more universities and research capable SMEs in particular offer good opportunities as well.
This is another indication of the irrelevance of the QAA. Beyond a certain point, employer involvement means training students for today's labour market rather than educating them to participate in the labour market of the next 30-50 years. Employers should not be ducking their own responsibilities for professional development by expecting universities to produce oven-ready graduates in the narrow sense of this report.
Why should the sole purpose of a university education or degree be about churning out 'work-ready' graduates to satisfy the relentless demand sod employers and big business? Universities are being turned into a sausage factory, turning out graduates in conveyor-belt style, to meet the demands of big business. What a dull, soul-less, process. What is wrong with education as a worthwhile activity in itself, but which will then produce educated, well-rounded individuals who are also, as a by product, valuable to employers? Must every single civic, cultural or social activity or institution be subordinated to the interests of big business or the needs of 'the market'? What a philistine nation we are becoming. Noting is deemed worthwhile unless it benefits employers and corporations.

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