Wolverhampton eyes industry links

January 26, 2007

Staff at Wolverhampton University are being encouraged to work for local employers as part of a new strategic plan that seeks to put the institution ahead of the game in terms of employer-led higher education.

The university said that its plan ticked all the Government's boxes, from widening participation and international links to working with business, and demonstrated that Wolverhampton was making a "bold statement" about the future direction of higher education.

"Wolverhampton is a strong regional university that also plays a key role in fulfilling many of the Government's national priorities," said Caroline Gipps, who came from Kingston University to take over as vice-chancellor from John Brooks in 2005. "We are already a national leader in terms of knowledge transfer, and we have a number of collaborative arrangements with local employers that we intend to develop."

Wolverhampton has a good reputation for widening participation: last summer it topped funding council performance tables on access. It also has an international profile, with 15 per cent of its student body made up of overseas students. It intends to increase these numbers by focusing on mainland China and recruitment from West Africa. It also plans to expand international research partnerships.

But, it said that the biggest "statement" was to be made in the area of staff development.

"Nationally, the university will play a particular role in the development of new professions, and in widening the social base of existing professions through teaching and curriculum, and in the provision of continuing professional development," the plan says.

One way of doing this will be to support the "exchange of staff and skills between the university and partner organisations".

Geoff Hurd, the deputy vice-chancellor, said: "Our staff already work in partner organisations. We have people working one day a week in the health service or people on secondments. We are now looking at joint appointments as well."

The Leitch review of skills, which came out late last year, said universities had to develop more links with employers. Professor Hurd said:

"We already push all the Leitch buttons and are well ahead of the curve on this one."

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