Project to boost student employability
University of St Andrews students will benefit from work-related learning thanks to £1.2 million investment from the Scottish Funding Council.
The Universities of Glasgow, St Andrews and Glasgow Caledonian are launching a groundbreaking project to enhance the employability of new graduates. The three-year initiative will undertake in-depth research with students, academics and employers, with the goal of embedding effective work-related learning (WRL) into the curriculum in a range of subjects.
Dr Brian Lang, Principal and Vice- Chancellor of the University of St Andrews said, “The University of St Andrews places great emphasis on enhancing the employability of its graduates and is determined to enhance the range and quality of resources which are made available to students. We welcome the opportunity to work with partners on this important initiative and to develop exemplary best practice in work-related learning”.
Led by the University of Glasgow, the impetus for the new project was twofold – a growing awareness of the importance of work experience and related learning for students, and a recognition of the increasing importance that the Government is placing on WRL as an integral aspect of the learning experience. The project partners aim to develop creative ways of linking with business which go beyond the standard ‘work placement’ model, developing innovative approaches which work for universities, business and graduates.
The potential benefits are huge. Producing graduates who already have workplace experience benefits the graduates, who are more employable; it benefits the employers, who will enjoy better qualified applicants; and it benefits the economy, where more experienced graduates will make a positive impact very quickly.
Principal of the University of Glasgow, Sir Muir Russell, said, “We are delighted that SFC has supported this pioneering project, which aims to be at the forefront of change in Scottish Higher Education. We are serious about learning and teaching, and recognise the importance of Work Related Learning in developing graduates with the employability skills for a smart successful Scotland. Moreover, we hope to develop a strategic shift in institutional culture, which will lead and promote a sector-wide change in approach to work-related learning”.
Meanwhile, Professor Pamela Gillies, Principal of Glasgow Caledonian University said, “Glasgow Caledonian University is delighted to be a partner in this Strategic Change Grant project, standing together with major Scottish HE partners to highlight the importance and relevance of WRL to the Scottish employability agenda, to shape and influence the development of best practices in WRL for the sector, and to disseminate and promote these practices throughout Scotland”.
Roger McClure, Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council added, “We commend the three universities for this imaginative project. Most graduates will become part of the workforce. It is in Scotland’s interests that they are as effective as they can be when they get there. This is a key part of the contribution higher education makes to the nation and a major priority of the Funding Council”.
Facilitating this type of learning is a major challenge for universities, who recognise that it is not easy, nor is it cheap, to source WRL opportunities for students. Not all academic programmes are flexible enough to incorporate WRL into curricula, particularly in non-vocational subject disciplines. The partnership of three like-minded, but very different institutions, aims to produce models of WRL which break through traditional curriculum structures, and develop a dynamic, mutually-beneficial exchange with business and employers.
Employer involvement will be key to the project, and each institution will not only be building on existing business links, but seeking other innovative companies keen to be involved in driving forward the shared vision, and effecting change for Scotland.
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