Embedding entrepreneurship and employability
There are lots of opportunities for students at Russell Group universities to extend or add to their skills through the curriculum and by participating in extra- or co-curricular activities, and our universities are supporting them in numerous ways.
For example, final-year students in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield have the option to take the award-winning ‘technology strategy and business planning’ module. This introduces “concept, strategy, and techniques behind a business plan based on the exploitation or development of identified technological opportunities”. In reality, it fosters a deep collaboration between students and technology users, with student ideas being developed into prototypes and functional products, often in life-changing applications such as a walking frame for children with brittle bones, now being used by children’s hospitals across the UK.
The University of Glasgow has developed a skills matrix based around ten key attributes, identifying the academic, personal and transferable aspects of each attribute.
Many universities are introducing the Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR) to provide further opportunities for recognising the acquisition of skills and attributes, as well as verifying students’ co-curricular achievements and awards.
Several of our universities offer specific awards to recognise students’ wider achievements, attributes and skills. For example, the University of Birmingham Personal Skills Award (PSA) offers undergraduate students two pathways:
- the Modular Pathway, allowing students to take accredited assessed modules in transferable skills
- the Active Pathway, recognising participation in extra-curricular activities which develop employability.
The award has been recognised as a leader in its field, winning the Association of Graduate Recruiters’ (AGR) award for Graduate Development Preparation in Higher Education. In making its award, the AGR highlighted the quality and robust nature of the PSA’s design as a key feature of the programme.
For many students, a key aspect of developing employability skills is the chance to gain first-hand experience of the workplace during their studies. Many degree courses at Russell Group universities incorporate work placements as a central part of the learning experience. For example:
- The University of Manchester offers its law students an innovative form of workplace experience that also benefits the local community
- University of Liverpool Law School students offer pro bono legal advice under the supervision of professionally qualified legal practitioners
- The University of Warwick offers a bursary scheme for work experience
- The University of Birmingham offers opportunities for placements with industry partners.