Our higher education system is experiencing a dramatic period of change: higher fees, technological advancements and the impact of Brexit are all shaping the sector into something unrecognisable to people who went to university only a decade or so ago.
Most importantly, high fees have transformed students into more critical consumers of higher education. Students now want confidence that they will leave university with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed professionally. Yet the most recent CBI Skills Survey found, 46% of employers are not satisfied with university leavers' levels of business and customer awareness, while at the same time 90% value graduates with the right skills for the work place over factors like degree subject.
This is now a pressing issue for universities. How can degrees be reshaped to better prepare graduates?
One key way is involving businesses much more in HE. We know from our own experience that many are keen if given the chance. This provides a great opportunity for Universities to build business experience into their course design and student experience and to create innovative designs.
For example, at Pearson Business School we are working with a world leading companies including Tesco, Unilever and Direct Line, IBM and WPP's Ogilvy to develop the UK's first Rotational Degree Apprenticeship in Business combining blue chip apprenticeships with traditional academic study.
Students spend three years rotating around top-companies picking up skills and connections as they work. They will graduate with a degree, an apprenticeship, chartered manager status and an enviable CV with experience at three FTSE 100 companies. Students are paid a minimum salary of £15,000 per year and tuition fees are fully paid.
The calibre of the businesses participating and the high level of collaboration required is a sign of business commitment to developing the talent of the UK's work-force in the long term. It also signals the changing landscape of prestigious apprenticeships.
The launch of the Rotational Business Degree Apprenticeship scheme is the first time a consortia of blue chips have collaborated in this way, responding to the Government's commitment to place apprenticeships on the same footing as traditional degrees and, if rolled out more widely, could help employers meet the target to create three million apprenticeships by 2020.
Working closely with businesses in designing undergraduate degrees is hugely beneficial for students. Numerous studies show that students who experience internships or other types of professional experience do better academically, so this is not just about employment but also intellectual development. This can be a rich win-win for universities and students, and is essential to build a workforce prepared to meet the complex challenges of the twenty first century.
Roxanne Stockwell, Principal of Pearson Business School's parent institution, Pearson College London.
Pearson College London, offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees that are designed, developed and delivered by industry. Pearson Business School is powered by Pearson, the world's learning company, and is also the only FTSE100 company to deliver degrees in the UK. Courses are available in Business, Law and Accounting.
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