Are universities becoming the finishing schools of the future?

Going to university for most students has been about obtaining a degree in a field of study they are interested in, having fun and thus setting themselves up for a more secure future.

However, universities are now providing ‘enhanced offers’, prospectuses don’t just sell the degree and sunny happy lifestyle of university but the extra, the added value that their university is offering.

‘PDP – Personal development plans is a process that enhances and supports your experience as a student and every university is actively engaged in how it can support individual students.’
University of Chichester prospectus outlines

And technology has an important part to play, many universities now have either embedded PDP planning into the curriculum or are starting to think about how best they can. e-Portfolios and how they underpin this individual process have been evolving and moving away from the an extra tool, to becoming a key component of new modules and revised old ones.

So, as universities integrate PDP processes, get to grip in how to embed eportfolios and learning technology as part of the everyday student life; students, whether they are fuller aware are leaving university with more than the honors they were attracted to.

Graduate attributes seeks to do exactly that:

‘Graduate attributes are the qualities, skills and understandings a university community agrees its students should develop during their time with the institution. These attributes include but go beyond the disciplinary expertise or technical knowledge that has traditionally formed the core of most university courses. They are qualities that also prepare graduates as agents of social good in an unknown future.’
Bowden, Hart, King, Trigwell & Watts (2000)

‘the skills, knowledge and abilities of university graduates, beyond disciplinary content knowledge, which are applicable to a range of contexts’
Barrie (2004)

So, whilst I don’t think universities will ever help you walk with perfect poise, they are looking to give you poise in terms of positioning lifelong learning as a fundamental skill, with students embracing learning technology for recording, reflecting and evaluating their learning, skills and goals, as well as values, attributes and commitment.

The problem however, is students still want to go to university to pass their degree and have fun, employability is something they can worry about in their final year (after the gap year maybe in the sun).

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