The Changing State of Higher Education
- Published: Monday, 23 July 2018 15:28
- Written by National Centre for Universities and Business
Clearly we have much to celebrate of the Higher Education Institutions of the UK: from their role in regional and national economies to the strength of their reputation on an international stage.
But the Industrial Strategy white paper also demonstrated a number of challenges around skills and talent, from technical to sectoral, which remain counter-productive to the success of the UK economy. For a higher education system of international repute, there is a clear role to be played in tackling these; universities have to ensure that graduates emerge from degree programmes not just ready, but able to work.
Employability is not a simply defined term. The rhetoric has and continues to evolve from academic discipline to critical thinking, work experience, leadership ability, and communication skills etc. The list goes on, and so the burden on universities grows.
Yet it is evident in this section that universities have stepped up to the plate. From the advent of new forces in degree apprenticeships, to the role of institutions in life-long learning and the upskilling of the workforce; higher education is in a changing state. There is evidence of the growing importance of interdisciplinarity, as more institutions merge the arts and sciences together to embed creativity and critical thinking in their students. Both universities and businesses are also investing heavily in institutes solely for the evolution of graduate talent, and embedding the practice of work experience across both small and large companies.
Not all changes for higher education have been easy, and rarely have they been straightforward. It is in the complicated spaces that we see the most innovative solutions, brought about by collaboration. The role of industry demonstrated here is strong; using innovative technology to extend the offer of work experience, cocreating new and varied degree programmes, using competitive enterprise to motivate and mentor students. All these initiatives, and more, are crucial to the development of graduates capable of meeting the exceptional skills demands of the current and future economy.
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