AGCAS President Bob Gilworth responds to new HEPI report

09 March 2020

AGCAS President, Bob Gilworth, has responded to the publication of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) report Getting on: graduate employment and its influence on higher educationpublished on Thursday 5 March.

"I am very pleased to see the publication of the HEPI report and was delighted to write the foreword. HEPI is a very well regarded policy organisation and their blue book series is well-known and influential. I am very grateful to colleagues in the AGCAS office for forging and maintaining this link.

A voice in the debate

As AGCAS President, I am naturally pleased to see that the report gives our member services a voice in the debate around the impact of the employability agenda on UK higher education. To us, it might feel like common sense to get a view from the professionals who are at the heart of this work every day, but we know that this does not happen as often as we might like. The HEPI report is a significant step forward in this regard.

Student journey

I daresay that some readers outside of our immediate environment might be surprised to see access and participation feature as an impactful policy area. My sense is that those with a view of careers services as positioned very much at the end of the student journey may not instinctively realise the part that our services play in the whole of that journey, and of the hugely important interaction between careers and employability and social mobility. However, I am sure that the connection makes sense to everyone when we can explain it. For example, AGCAS members know that insight into such fundamental issues as the largely 'any discipline' nature of the UK graduate recruitment market can open up possibilities and is likely to add value to the student journey if it can be shared early. From a social mobility perspective, this may be of particular benefit to students who may not already be familiar with this through family or social networks.

Views of success

I feel that the congruence between the student view and careers services’ view of success is a very positive aspect of the report. Of course, those views of what 'good' looks like do not necessarily accord with the potential impact of a view of success based entirely on earnings and this naturally comes out in the report. So does a sense of hope but uncertainty about the possibilities of more rounded views, which could come from the Graduate Voice part of the Graduate Outcomes survey. It was interesting and useful to see hopes for a more rounded view of success expressed by Professor Julia Buckingham for UUK."