Work placements could boost marks for students

Some UK universities are discussing ways to reward work experience gained in the job market, it was reported yesterday.

Several institutions, including the University of Leicester, University College London and Durham University are considering awarding undergraduates extra marks to their degree if they can show corporate skills or work experience gained within the workplace.

Undergraduates on all Leicester’s courses could earn credits for showing they can run workshops or make a good presentation, University College London’s career unit is in discussions with senior managers over how to accredit employment skills and Durham is considering awarding marks for work experience.

Pro-vice-chancellor for education at Durham, Professor Anthony Forster said the university was discussing awarding students with academic credit, for student employment or short-term community and work-based placements that have involved the application or development of academic knowledge and skills.

Vocationally-orientated undergraduate degrees, such as engineering, have long included compulsory work placements.  However, awarding credits for work experience for academic courses such as English Literature is thought to be a new development.

With the cost of a degree set to rise from £3,290 to £9,000 a year, an increasing number of students will soon pick a course based on whether they think it will prepare them for the job market.

But the Universities involved in these discussions have been criticised over their plans. They have been accused of short-term thinking and dumbing down the courses.

James Ladyman, a professor of philosophy at Bristol University, said the move risked focusing too much on the requirements of employers in the corporate sector. He argues that, Incorporating corporate skills into the curriculum is short-term thinking, the point about education is that it equips you for the long-term. He accuses some Universities of short-sightedness and said learning to think was the skill graduates most needed in order to succeed in the workplace.  He also explains that focusing too much on the cash value of a course would deter international students, who come to Britain to learn under leading academics rather than take corporate skills courses.

To stand out in the oversubscribed job market it is important for students and graduates to fully prepare themselves; Inspiring Interns believes these plans give students an opportunity to gain practical work experience in a field related to their studies.  In an increasingly competitive job market it is necessary for Universities to help students develop valuable skills that will impress possible employers.

Do you think the inclusion of work placements as part of degrees will help graduates tackle the world of work?