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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

Work-based learning

​​​QAA Scotland aims to support Scottish higher education institutions (HEIs) to develop and enhance their work-based learning (WBL) provision. For WBL students, much of their learning happens inside their workplace rather than in traditional academic settings. This raises a number of challenges for HEIs and employers, who need to work together to ensure that WBL students have a learning experience that is comparable in terms of standards and quality to any other student.

QAA Scotland's development work in WBL includes Making it work: a guidebook exploring work-based learning, and the Scottish Higher Education Work-Based Learning Forum.​

Making it work: a guidebook exploring work-based learning 

This guidance is primarily for managers and tutors in higher education institutions (HEIs) and industry who are interested in work-based learning (WBL) or who wish to explore its possibilities. It will also be relevant for other stakeholders such as WBL students, staff at HEIs, and employers experienced in WBL. It comprises information, ideas, case studies and tools​.​ 

Scottish Higher Education Work-Based Learning Forum

The Scottish Higher Education Work-Based Learning Forum is an opportunity for practitioners to come together, share practice and discuss issues and concerns about work-based learning (WBL). It was created following the WBL and employer engagement conference held in Dundee in May 2010, where the need for a sector-wide forum that would help develop and enhance WBL provision in Scottish higher education was identified. The Forum is chaired by Dr Anne McGillivray, Dean of Students at the University of the West of Scotland.

Forum projects

Members of the Forum are involved with the JISC project 'Taking Work-Based Learning Forward in Scotlan​d using the Work-Based Learning Toolkit'. This project aims to embed and enhance WBL in four Scottish higher education institutions by using JISC's WBL Maturity Toolkit (opens in new window). The Scottish institutions have been working with Welsh colleagues during this project. The outcomes from this work will be disseminated to the rest of the sector via the Forum.

The Open University in Scotland, in conjunction with the QAA Work-Based Learning Forum, is carrying out a small-scale project related to understanding WBL in the higher education sector in Scotland. Moira Dunworth, an experienced Associate Lecturer with the Open University, has been appointed to progress this work. A reference group made up of a range of representatives from HEIs in Scotland will help to advise and steer this project forward over the coming months. It is anticipated that the findings from this project will be available in the Autumn. For further information, please contact Moira Dunworth.

Forum meeting details

The Forum meets twice a year, although there are opportunities to contribute to discussions online through a mailing list. In such a developing and innovative field there is plenty to talk about. The Forum is open to anyone who is involved, or wishes to be involved, in educational provision that includes learning through work, placements and accreditation of employer provision. 
For more details contact Heather Gibson, Development Officer, QAA Scotland.