Dr. Heike Behle, University of Warwick
The demand for higher education has never been greater as universities compete globally to attract students. Rising demand is being met through greater diversity of provision, including a significant growth in private provision. Prospective students consequently have a breadth of choice about where to study, what to study and what their choices might bring in terms of quality of the HE experience, future career opportunities and potential levels of incurred student debt.
This has led students and their families to look hard at the value of return on their investment in higher education and may even put some off participation in HE at all. The search for innovation and economic growth has renewed interest in enterprise and the extent to which relevant skills and capabilities are nurtured by higher education. Work-based learning appears to have a key role in addressing these related issues and there is renewed interest in exploring the relevance and value of work placements and internships.
Some argue that the responsibilities of HE go beyond these utilitarian practicalities and involve an ethical dimension, especially for courses and institutions that have sought actively to widen participation and to recruit new social groups for whom the levels of debt involved are problematic. For them, it can be argued ensuring improved life chances is critical unless HE is to be reduced to a cynical recruitment exercise.
This Network is concerned with research on the policy and practice surrounding these issues at a variety of levels from international policy debate on the social and economic role of graduates, national reports on employer engagement through to the effectiveness of institutional provision.
Specific aims include:
• To engage with research and official publications intended to inform policy and/or practice in the areas of employability, enterprise and work-based learning
• To work with appropriate interest groups promoting or undertaking relevant research, including Association of Sandwich Education and Training (ASET), Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS), Higher Education Academy (HEA), Centre for Industry and HE (CIHE), Higher Education Careers Unit (HECSU).
• To disseminate research, enabling researchers to showcase work that they are undertaking, share early findings, identify appropriate outlets for publications and support one another in their endeavours.
The network intends to have at least 2 major events each academic year. Initial topics covered in 2013-4 were:
• Collaboration with employers
• Placements, internships and work-based learning
Partners in these events included ASET (placements) CIHE (employer engagement) and HECSU (placements and work based learning).
A special issue of Higher Education Quarterly was commissioned from the convenors on employer engagement (due July 2014) in which it is expected SIG members’ research will feature.
Within the broad aims set out above, the convenors intend that the focus for future events and activities will derive from the interests of participants and be discussed with them.
For further information, please contact the Network convenors via the above details or the SRHE at firstname.lastname@example.org