What is Focus On?
QAA Scotland's Focus On projects help the sector address recommendations and commendations from Enhancement-led Institutional Review (ELIR). Focus On ties these outcomes to developmental activities, resources and events that the whole sector can get involved in. Projects last one academic year (from October to June). We try to focus on the most practical things that can help colleagues make a real difference in a short space of time.
Why graduate skills?
With debate on apprenticeships and skills high on the agenda in higher education, Focus On: Graduate Skills was relevant and timely. This project built 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. We then consulted Scottish higher education institutions and students’ associations to identify priority areas. As a result, the project considered:
- Readiness for Employment: how can we most effectively embed skills inside and outside the curriculum, including digital skills, for graduates from all disciplines?
- Equality and Diversity: how can we support students from all backgrounds and characteristics to develop skills that will help them to secure and sustain success in the workplace?
- Global Perspective: how do we ensure that all Scottish graduates are enabled to live and work in a global society, and that the Scottish sector is informed by global developments?
We commissioned two projects.
- Graduate Skills: Students Views
- Graduate Skills: Graduate and Employer Views
These projects worked together to analyse the views of current students, graduates and employers on the skills developed by students at higher education institutions in Scotland, and to answer the following questions:
- What is the sector doing well, and where could it do better?
- How is the sector ensuring that appropriate digital skills are developed by graduates in all disciplines and subject areas?
- How is the sector ensuring that all students (irrespective of background and different characteristics) are able to access the full range of skills development opportunities offered in higher education?
- How is the sector ensuring that graduates are equipped to live and work in a global society?
Graduate Skills: Students Views
A team from the University of Glasgow and Glasgow School of Art led the Graduate Skills: Students Views project. The team brought a wealth of knowledge and expertise on the development of graduate skills and attributes in higher education and included:
- Dr Maxine Swingler (Lecturer in Psychology)
- Dr Archie Roy (Careers Manager)
- Anna Rolinska (Lecturer in English for Academic Study)
- Dr Maria Gardini (Lecturer in Psychology)
- Scott Kirby (Vice-President of Student Activities, SRC)
- undergraduate and postgraduate researchers.
Their exciting approach to research and engaging students in the project helped us to analyse the views of current students on the skills they are developing through their studies. We present this material in a way that helps individuals, institutions and the sector as a whole develop new policies and practices in this vital area.
Graduate Skills: Graduate and Employer Views
Sharing practice event
This event was designed to let colleagues share ideas and practice, and to and provoke debate and reflection around graduate skills development in higher education in an open and supportive environment. It was attended by around 100 delegates including staff and students from institutions in the UK and round the world and representatives from sector bodies. We started the day with an update on the two projects described above, which set the tone for a robust and detailed conversation about what we mean when we say ‘graduate skills’ and how we can best help our students to develop them. To read more about the day, check out our Wakelet of the event.
Focus on: Graduate Skills - QAA Scotland research projects
Embedding skills in the curriculum: New approaches to developing graduate attributes
Graduate Attributes frameworks: Institutional and universal models for skills development
Engaging employers: Enhancing skills development through partnership
Work-based skills development: Making the most of placements and internships
Learning journeys: Joined-up approaches to recognising skills development
Equality and diversity: Creating opportunities for all
Keynote - Professor Simon Barrie
The global goals
This video was shared by Professor Simon Barrie in his presentation, and sets out goals for sustainable global development, and how the world could change if these goals were met.
Shaping strategy summit
This event was an opportunity for a multi-stakeholder dialogue on the future of graduate skills in Scotland; our approach in an international context; the future challenges we face; and our readiness as a sector to meet these and take action. The outputs from the day are designed to contribute to policy direction in the Scottish HE sector. We were joined by 60 delegates including institutional policy-makers, international speakers, and representation from the Scottish Government.
About Professor Simon Barrie
Professor Simon Barrie is the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning Futures) at Western Sydney University. He is responsible for the leadership of strategic educational innovation and collaboration to shape the University’s commitment to ensuring its students fulfil their potential to become influential global citizen-scholars in a new technology-enabled world. His expertise is in innovatively engaging university communities to deliver new ways to enact the ‘idea of the university’ in a rapidly changing world. Professor Barrie has worked in the field of higher education for over 25 years and is an awardwinning teacher with an international reputation for his research on the transformative potential of higher education.
About Professor Sara Carter
Professor Sara Carter is Associate Principal (Learning & Teaching) at the University of Strathclyde where her portfolio includes leading on Strathclyde’s new Learning & Teaching Building due to open in 2020 as well as studentfacing areas such as PGT growth, transnational education, careers and employability. As Professor of Entrepreneurship within the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship in Strathclyde Business School, her work focuses on business ownership and economic well-being. Sara is a member of the Council of Economic Advisers to the First Minister of Scotland and the Enterprise & Skills Strategic Board. Previously, she served on the UK Government’s Women’s Enterprise Task Force, and was awarded the OBE for services to women entrepreneurs in 2008.
About Dr Ailsa Crum
Dr Ailsa Crum is Head of Quality & Enhancement at QAA Scotland, which involves overseeing the review and enhancement activities designed and delivered in close association with the Scottish university sector and its students. She has a range of sector engagements (eg Scottish Funding Council and SCQF Partnership) and links outside the UK including with the Academic Quality Agency for New Zealand Universities, the European Quality Audit Network, Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) and the University of Limerick. Outside work, Ailsa has a research interest in creative education, especially literary memoir, and all forms of storytelling.
About Dr Wendy Cukier
Dr Wendy Cukier is Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy at the Ted Rogers School of Management. She is one of Canada’s leading experts in disruptive technologies, innovation processes and diversity and is co-author of the bestseller “Innovation Nation: Canadian Leadership from Java to Jurassic Park.” She leads Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute, aimed at promoting the participation and advancement of underrepresented groups. The Diversity Institute leads Canada’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub and is a key partner in Canada’s new Future Skills Centre, a national unit led by Ryerson. Previously, as Associate Dean of the Ted Rogers School of Management, Canada’s largest business school, she led the development of an innovative MBA with one of the highest employment rates in the country. She holds an MA, an MBA, and a PhD, and honorary doctorates from Laval and Concordia.
About Professor John Harper
Professor John Harper is a graduate of the University of Aberdeen where he studied for both an Honours Degree and a PhD in Chemistry. He entered higher education as a lecturer in Chemistry at the former Robert Gordon Institute of Technology and progressed to senior-lectureship before taking up the position of Head of the School of Applied Sciences. In this role, John was involved in a range of national activities, including teaching quality assessment, external examining, and course development and approval. This contributed to attaining his award of Fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
John was promoted to the role of Assistant Principal/Dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Care before progressing to the role of Vice Principal and then Deputy Principal and Vice-Chancellor with specific responsibility for Academic Quality and Development, and subsequently Principal and Vice-Chancellor. John has served on a number of national committees associated with institutional quality assurance, quality enhancement and widening participation, and undertaken non-executive governance roles in a range of organisations including national regulator, FE College and private school.
About Professor Crichton Lang MRCVS
Professor Crichton Lang MRCVS is Deputy Principal of the University of the Highlands and Islands. He originally trained and practised as a veterinary surgeon in Tayside, Scotland before completing a PhD in neuropharmacology and pursuing a university career. Crichton first worked in the University of Bristol and subsequently for 12 years at the University of St Andrews where in addition to undertaking research, lecturing and developing curriculum in his own areas of interest (applied physiology, human and comparative biology), he held the posts of Director of Teaching for the school of biology and Pro-Dean for the faculty of science.
Building on his broad experience within the sector, Crichton coordinated much of the strategic development of the University of the Highlands and Islands through its journey to degree awarding powers and full university title. In addition to a broad portfolio
of responsibilities within the university as deputy principal, Crichton maintains specific oversight of key activities relating to curriculum development in areas relating to health and wellbeing, quality assurance and enhancement of academic courses,
student achievement and satisfaction, and the strategic development of the university’s portfolio of awards. Crichton has a particular interest in institutional audit and review of universities and has experience as an institutional reviewer
both in the UK and abroad.
About Professor Sir Jim McDonald
Professor Sir Jim McDonald joined the University of Strathclyde in 1984 following seven years in the electric utility industry and was appointed to the RollsRoyce Chair in Electrical Power Systems in 1993. He became Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde in March 2009. He co-chairs, with the First Minister of Scotland, the Scottish Government’s Energy Advisory Board. He is Chairman of the Independent Glasgow Economic Leadership Board. He currently holds several senior business appointments with organisations including the Weir Group, Scottish Power, the UK Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and the UK National Physical Laboratory. He chairs two of the pan-Scotland research pools in Energy and Engineering, is Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering Research Committee and is President of the Association of European Universities of Science and Technology (CESAER). He has been nominated by the Trustee Board of the Royal Academy as its next Presidential candidate for election by Fellows at the September 2019 AGM. In the Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours List on 16 June 2012, Professor McDonald was awarded a Knighthood for services to education, engineering and the economy. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Institute of Physics and the Energy Institute.
About Professor Brad McKay
Professor Brad McKay held a Chair in Strategic Management at the University of Edinburgh Business School, where he was also Director of Engagement on the Executive Team (2014-2016), Head of the Strategy and International Business Department (2011-2014), and Director of the MBA programs (2009-2011). He held an ESRC Senior Fellowship in the Future of the UK and Scotland program (20132014). He earned a BA in International Development Studies from Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada, an MLitt (with Distinction) in Management, Economics and Politics (MEP) and a PhD in Strategy from the University of St Andrews. He is Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). Professor of Strategy in the School of Management, he has held the role of Vice-Principal (International Strategy and External Relations) at the University of St Andrews since 2017. His responsibilities include: oversight and development of the University’s international strategy post-Brexit; development and management of practices and policies related to strategic relationships national and international; relations with government ministers, policymakers and HE sector bodies as well as other universities in order to raise the university’s profile and impact in the sector; and managerial responsibility for the Communications Unit, Development, Admissions, Career Centre and English Language Teaching Unit.
About Jason Miles-Campbell
As head of Jisc Scotland and Northern Ireland, Jason Miles-Campbell has responsibility for ensuring outstanding service for Jisc customers and communities in both nations. Jisc provides Scotland’s universities and colleges with digital infrastructure and services (such as the superfast Janet Network), saves the sector time and money by negotiating sector-wide deals with IT vendors and digital resource publishers, and offers expert and trusted advice on digital technology for education and research. Through teams of account managers, Jason works to ensure Scottish universities and colleges get the most out of their Jisc membership.
About Professor Sarah Sharples
Professor Sarah Sharples is Professor of Human Factors at the University of Nottingham where she is also Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. She is one of the co-founders of “Transport, Mobility and Cities at Nottingham” - a multidisciplinary grouping which brings together researchers from areas including civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, human factors, architecture, computer science, business and geography. Her work in transport human factors includes projects on understanding how people use smartphones during journeys and movement, technologies to support journey-sharing, new technologies in rail automation and control and human performance in air traffic control. Sarah was President of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors from 2015-2016, is a council member for EPSRC, and on the Science Advisory Council for Department for Transport.
Focus On: Graduate Skills tweetchat
On 5 December 2018 QAA Scotland guest-hosted the #LTHEchat on the subject of 'Graduate Skills'. We used this tweetchat to ask a series of questions about how higher education institutions and providers can better support student to develop the skills they will need to thrive in their lives and work following their studies. The whole conservation was captured on Tweetchat.