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The co-curriculum and employability

The Employability Enhancement Theme emphasised the use, application and recognition of  employability through the co-curriculum (certification and accreditation of work done by students in the 'co- curriculum' (a term used in preference to 'extra curriculum').

One example cited was the formal accreditation of student committee members of societies and sports development in universities, and, it was argued that to engage students, participation in ERASMUS should be encouraged.

One of the workshops in the Assessment Series focused on Assessing Personal Transferable Skills. The overview paper on the workshop offered an interesting perspective on what transferable skills might be considered to be; how they might be developed in students; what their place is, or should be in the curriculum; how they might be taught and then assessed and finally the ways in which learning in such skills should be represented.

The workshop also drew participants' attention to a document published as part of the Learning and Employability Series entitled 'Employability: judging and communicating achievement', published by the Higher Education Academy.

The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) has developed a collaborative project with the Harris Tweed Authority, partly to instill and develop notions of graduate attributes in their students. The intended nature of this collaboration extends beyond the traditional model of work placements and internships and aims to cultivate an innovative approach to employer engagement in education with wide ranging outcomes of mutual benefit.

Students will benefit from live project experience with 'real' clients which will enhance their graduate attributes and have internship and postgraduate study opportunities. For the GSA there will be opportunities to develop and refine pertinent elements of the curriculum in relation to employability; to undertake practice-based and work-related learning research; to create and sustain links with industry; and to develop strong Knowledge Transfer partnerships.

Harris Tweed will be able to develop and implement ideas generated through the Live Projects; draw upon the research expertise of staff; and use the collaboration as a source of Continuous Professional Development.

Another work related project at the GSA is the Fashion Show, which is put on each year by third year students studying for the B. Des (Hons) Fashion and Textile degree. In contrast to the Harris Tweed Project, the fashion show has been running since around 1947, but it still provides invaluable work experience for the students involved.

For another example of work related learning embedded in the curriculum see Closing the gap: The benefits and challenges of embedding work-related learning in the taught curriculum

The University of Aberdeen's STAR (Students Taking Active Roles) Awards are designed to encourage students to participate in particular, defined co-curricular activities, and to recognise their achievements in those activities. The specific objectives of the Award are to:  

  • Acknowledge and recognise the co-curricular contributions of students, both on campus and externally to the University.
  • Develop students' self-awareness of their skills and competencies, and also their achievement of Aberdeen Graduate Attributes.
  • Enhance students' understanding of how to effectively present their skills, competencies and experiences to graduate employers.

The University of Dundee has undertaken a survey of professionally accredited courses across the wide range of disciplines at the University, to examine the place of sustainability in recent accreditation exercises. The work was supported by a grant from the Higher Education Academy.

The University of Strathclyde Student's Association reported for the G21C Enhancement Theme on the development of a university-wide credit bearing module centring on community involvement. It is intended that the module will be offered in years two and three, running over both semesters, and that it will be heavily focused on self directed learning and continuous assessment.

The educational aim of this module is to engender a sense of civic responsibility in students through active involvement within their community. It aims to highlight the role of the community and understanding of its societal place, purpose and impact. In following this module it is intended that students will further develop graduate attributes identified at Strathclyde as being significant: namely to become enterprising, engaged, ethical and enquiring.