Work-based learning must be embraced

May 7, 2009

Universities must abandon their snobbery towards work-based learning, the chief executive of Foundation Degree Forward will tell academics and university managers.

Speaking in advance of Times Higher Education's employment engagement conference, to be held in London on 13 May, Derek Longhurst said that the university can no longer consider itself to be the ultimate educational institution, and added that it is time to embrace new ways of learning.

"I will argue that the university can no longer be regarded as the primary context for learning and knowledge production in the 21st century and that the workplace can be developed as a significant learning environment," he said.

Professor Longhurst said work-based learning, which often forms part of foundation-degree curriculums, is challenging the way universities are structured, the mindset of academics and their methods.

"Institutions should see work-based learning as an innovative pedagogy, not something to do with training ... or a bit of work experience," he said. "For many ... it provides an attractive option that contributes to diversity and wider participation in higher education."

He added that it was "important for universities to engage in a committed and strategic way with the challenges of work-based learning alongside their more traditional on-campus provision".

"This is particularly important in delivering work-based learning at a level that is identifiably appropriate to higher education," he said.

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