Leicester University has produced a blueprint for its ideal graduate, who should emerge from one of its degree courses armed with academic, work-related and personal skills.
As well as having a thorough grounding in their field of study, specifications set out in the university's learning and teaching strategy require that academics aim to turn out graduates with defined and advanced generic and personal qualities.
Leicester's model is designed to answer the demands of employers, who in the past have criticised higher education for failing to produce employees equipped with the skills needed to "hit the ground running".
The ideal graduate should have well-developed interpersonal, communication, numeracy, information technology and lifelong-learning abilities, in addition to in-depth knowledge of their subject area, the blueprint says.
The graduate should be able to take a critical, careful and objective approach to complex problems, be a good team member and be able to appreciate his or her own strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of others.
According to John Holloway, Leicester's pro vice-chancellor for learning and teaching, it is important that development of these attributes takes place in a structured way as part of the whole of a degree course, rather than as a "bolt-on" module.
He said: "I am sure there are other universities that aim for the same ideal model of a graduate. What makes ours different is that we have tried to create a structure to ensure the model is delivered and a mechanism to check how close we have come to that aim."
Professor Holloway said his initial concern that some academics might be reluctant to work towards the model had proved ill-founded.
He said: "We have set up general guidelines for each set of skills, with tests and defined outcomes for each year in each area. I am delighted to say that despite my worries, academics in all areas have taken ownership of this, and are now running with the idea."