What is Focus On?


Each year, we choose a topic for the Focus On project. We base this on our findings from Enhancement-led Institutional Review (ELIR). We invite all Scottish higher education institutions and students’ associations to tell us how we can give them the best support around this topic. This guarantees what we do will be useful and relevant.

Why Graduate Skills?


With the apprenticeships and skills work high on the agenda across the sector, a Focus On: Graduate Skills is relevant and timely. This project will also build on our previous work including the Graduates for the 21st Century Enhancement Theme.


We identified topics relating to graduate skills in Enhancement-led Institutional Review (ELIR) Outcome Reports and in our Thematic Report on Employability and Graduate Attributes.


The project


We consulted Scottish higher education institutions and students’ associations to identify the priority areas for our work on graduate skills. As a result, the project will consider:

  • Readiness for employment and effective ways of embedding skills inside (and outside) the curriculum, including digital skills for graduates from all disciplines.
  • Equality and diversity and how we can support students from all backgrounds and characteristics to develop skills that will help them to secure and sustain their success in the workplace. 

There will also be an international angle to our work, recognising that Scotland is an exporter of graduates around the globe and that all graduates will live and work in a global society.

Activities 2018-19


What we plan to do:

  • Share key messages and analysis of existing information on graduate attributes, skills and employability.
  • Explore student views - what approaches to skills development work well? How can we improve? What do students want more of?
  • Showcase and share practice - we will hold an event in summer 2019 to celebrate good practice and share current approaches to skills development.
  • Hold a policy and practice summit in summer 2019 - to consider our approach in Scotland in an international context, consider our future challenges and our readiness as a sector to meet these and take action.
  • Work with graduates and employers – what do graduates and employers tell us that we can do better in HE to support students for life after University, and how do we work most effectively with employers to embed effective skills development in the curriculum?

Related resource


Employability and Graduate Attributes: Thematic Report update 2018

Publication Date: 05 Nov 2018

In 2017 we produced a Thematic Report on employability and graduate attributes. This report provides an overview of sector activity in this area as at the beginning of the 2018-19 academic session. The intelligence on which this update is based is the reports produced by institutions at the end of the first year of the current Enhancement Theme, along with the Technical Reports published for the first two reviews of the ELIR 4 cycle (Queen Margaret University and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). It is likely that there is additional activity in the sector that is not captured here.

Document Details
Author: QAA Scotland
Format: PDF
Size: 30 KB

Call for expression of interest


QAA Scotland invites individuals and groups to submit expressions of interest to be considered to produce two pieces of written work on the views of current student and employers and graduates on the graduate skills. Full details of the two projects can be found in our news section.