Too much emphasis on graduate employability in Key Information Sets could play into the hands of private for-profit providers at the expense of universities, a vice-chancellor has warned.
From autumn 2012, all institutions will be required to publish data on contact hours, course fees, living costs and average income of graduates, to help students choose where to study.
But Janet Beer, vice-chancellor of Oxford Brookes University and chair of the Higher Education Public Information Steering Group, told a Westminster Education Forum event on 13 October that she feared students may focus too heavily on employment success statistics and pay little mind to information about the overall university experience.
“I am worried about an over-emphasis by students on employability,” she said at the London conference, titled The Student as a Consumer? The Next Steps for Student Experience and Quality Assurance in Universities.
“What they want (for) £9,000 (tuition fees) is employability, but we offer a much richer experience. We have a hinterland that for-profit institutions cannot offer.
“If we are really clear about the range of opportunities we offer students and make it obvious, then we will only get stronger.
“We must not get sucked into thinking that we are providing some kind of production-line product.”
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Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.