Your feature “Are graduates worth their salt?” (12 October) asks an important question.
Having written for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and for the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre on creative and critical thinking through enterprise competencies, I believe that university traditions and approaches are not wholly serving the students, or indeed the economy.
When Lord Young of Graffham recommended the publication of a Future Employment and Earnings Record (aptly named “FEER”) to assess which academic institutions and subject areas offered the best educational and career prospects (in his Enterprise for All report), the shaking of heads in educational circles was widespread.
The World Economic Forum, among others, is calling for a paradigm shift, and one area of concern is the evaluation of learner performance. While we hear constant calls for more creativity and innovation through learning, many higher education institutions have limited understandings about how to evaluate this and about how to map progress. Indeed, most claim that a reliance on examinations and tests that forecast student outcomes defeat the very objective of finding new ways forward.
Having chaired the Quality Assurance Agency’s review panel on enterprise and entrepreneurship, and having recently led four national events related to this, I know that many questions remain. For example, if we wish to be more innovative through learning, we need to capture and exploit intellectual property. However, most studies not only show confusion as to who should teach this and in what context, they indicate that the nettle has yet to be grasped.
Until such simple issues are understood and steps taken to address them, I fear that our students will remain under-prepared for the world beyond graduation. This, in turn, has its own implications for the UK economy.