AGCAS President's update

07 May 2018

Small-4428I recently wrote a piece for my University’s Teaching Matters blog entitled Evolution and revolution: preparing for the future. In it I reflected on the importance of understanding what we mean by concepts such as graduate attributes and employability.  It’s a topic that’s had airing in various places recently – we could debate for some (considerable) time about precise definitions and the irritation of employment and employability being used synonymously. For me, what matters is that within my institution we have a shared understanding, along with a narrative and strategy, which is relevant to our unique context. 

As expert practitioners and leaders within the diverse UK Higher Education system, we know only too well that one size doesn’t fit all – even within our own institutions, never mind across the sector. However we may define or describe it, we share objectives of supporting our institutional success through ensuring our students benefit from an HE experience which is the foundation for long term career success. We know that ‘career’ success is entwined in all aspects of life and is not simply about finding a job and staying economically active – even if those are the prevalent proxy measures.

In our individual institutions we have a dialogue to engage, inform, influence and educate those we work alongside. AGCAS has a similar role at a sector level.

The responses we make to consultations, the relationship building with sector bodies (e.g. UUK), participation at conferences, research contributions, and collaboration with longstanding partners such as HECSU and emerging ones such as HEPI are vital to this. 

Some recent examples, which in our all too hectic days may have passed you by:

  • Thanks to member input we’ve been able to make informed, expert responses to several recent consultations which you can find on the website.
  • Our ongoing partnership with Universities UK is exemplified in our support for their conference on employability. This collaboration is echoed in Wales and in Scotland: it was pleasing to see this recognised in the recent Scottish Government Learner Journey Review report “Universities Scotland, AGCAS and QAA gave reassurances that career services in HE are working effectively… Little is required to change in the university sector, where the careers service and its profession is mostly visible and standards are well maintained, including by a professional body.”
  • Our relationship with the Office for Students continues to grow, particularly around the widening access agenda. Our contribution to the recent HEPI manifesto for the Director of Fair Access was well received.
  • And through our research community we have the opportunity to extend knowledge and contribute to the debate, such as the recent stimulating NICEC article by our Quality Director, Dr Nalayini Thambar.

There is much to keep abreast of and contribute to. It’s now two months since the launch of the new website. I hope you’re finding it useful and I know staff in the Sheffield Office would welcome any feedback. If you haven’t yet had time to fully explore, I would really encourage you to grab a cuppa and a biscuit and have a good rummage around. It will ensure you’re tuned in and able to contribute to the debate.