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    A Case Study from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)

    Bede Mullen, Director of Knowledge Transfer, University of Central Lancashire A paper prepared for the ‘New Entrepreneurship Week’ Conference 2008, Sri Lanka (NEW



    Most UK Universities have recently reviewed arrangements to support student entrepreneurship, employability and enterprise within their institutions. This paper is a case study from one UK University, the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) on the development and implementation of a strategy to address student employability and enterprise. Lessons learnt will form the basis for future co-operation with Sri Lankan Universities.

    A review of student employability and enterprise provision was conducted at UCLan during 2006 which resulted in the development of a new strategy. This was part of a much larger exercise which reviewed the entire purpose and direction of the University and resulted in a new Medium Term Strategy for the institution (2007-2012), and, the restructure of the University‟s academic organisation from 4 faculties

    to 18 schools. The Student Employability and Enterprise Strategy is one of the three key themes within the University‟s Medium Term Strategy, the others being

    Internationalisation and Sustainability.


    The Student Employability & Enterprise Strategy has been developed in response to the following drivers:

    o Globalisation and an increasingly complex and uncertain world is causing higher

    education to develop entrepreneurial capacity in its students because of the

    sectors potential to impact on the UKs ability to compete internationally. o The contribution expected of HEIs to regional/local economic and social

    development, particularly in relation to knowledge transfer and graduate retention. _____________________________________________________________________

    Student Employability & Enterprise Bede Mullen November 2008

    Page 1

    o The transfer of the cost of higher education from the state to the individual in the

    form of new fees structure provides the imperative to ensure graduates are „work

    ready‟ on leaving higher education.

    o The high priority given to employment success by UCLan‟s students and

    prospective students.

    o The expansion of higher education has caused HEIs to consider differentiating

    their offer to students into unique/distinctive provision.

    o The marketisation of higher education has resulted in the proliferation of HE

    league tables with the drive by individual HEIs to be at/or near the top.

    The key goal of the Student Employability and Enterprise Strategy is expressed as:

„UCLan will provide sector leading support to ensure that its students become

    confident, skilled graduates with the ability to make a success of their future learning, employment, self-employment or other choices.‟

    ; The strategy recognises the need to equip students for a „life of work‟ and a world

    of life long learning. It proposes the re-orientation of the contract with the student

    to embrace a more clearly defined element of personal and career development. ; The strategy is based upon a series of opportunities branded as „UCLan Futures‟

    with the expectation that all students will engage in some aspects of the


    ; University resource in relation to student employability and enterprise is re-

    aligned into a single structure and modelled on a „hub and spoke‟ operation with

    the „hub‟ based in a prominent location on the University campus and „spokes‟

    replicated in each of the faculties.

    ; Employer links have been strengthened by greater involvement with employers

    and employer groups in the design and delivery of courses.

    ; Relationships with students following graduation are enhanced by new provision

    for alumni.

    ; The strategy addresses the needs of a diverse student body including, PT/FT;

    UG/PG; on-campus/partner college network, vocation/non-vocational,

    home/EU/international students.

An outcome of the strategy will be recognition by NGCE as an „Entrepreneurial



    Student Employability & Enterprise Bede Mullen November 2008

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Objectives of the Student Employability & Enterprise Strategy

    1 UCLan will establish itself as a leading university nationally for student

    employability and enterprise.

    2 Employability and enterprise will be embedded as a fundamental component of

    all academic provision at all levels.

    3 Structured support will be provided to all students entering the job market. 4 All students will have the opportunity to benefit from a range of structured and

    supported „learning from work‟ opportunities including placements, internships,

    live projects, volunteering, etc.

    5 UCLan will re-organise its current provision in order to present a single, high

    profile, easily accessible service to students.

    6 UCLan will develop strong relationships with employers and employer groups to

    maximise opportunities for graduate employment, provide high quality learning

    from work and develop high quality vocational courses.

    7 The University will present a single, positive, coherent message about

    employability and enterprise to staff, students, parents/guardians and to

    employers and other stakeholders in language and by communication channels

    appropriate to each audience.

    8 Self-development and success in extra-curricular activities will be recognised and

    celebrated by the UCLan community via the establishment of the UCLan Futures


    9 Provide alumni with employability and enterprise support. Engage with alumni to

    enrich employability and enterprise provision.

    One of the most innovative aspects of the Student Employability and Enterprise Strategy is the development of a Futures Award which will recognise student employability and enterprise achievement.

    “An award to recognise employability and enterprise achievement will be

    established with the assumption of all students participating.”

    The UClan Futures Award is currently being validated and will be available to all undergraduate students, on and off campus, from September 2009.

    The Futures Award will be undertaken in addition to the 360 credits required for an honours degree and will be delivered through modules, electives, workshops, live projects, competitions and the validation of extra-curricula activities such as volunteering, mentoring, work experience and coaching.

The UCLan Futures Award will be available at three different levels Bronze, Silver

    and Gold Award, and is centred around the enhancement of graduate and employability skills. These are skills highly valued by employers and provide the building blocks for career progression.

The Higher Education Quality Council defines graduateness as:

    “An idea that graduates should be expected to possess certain general

    qualities as a consequence of their experience of higher education.”


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    Examples of the general qualities includes: managing tasks and solving problems, working effectively with others, a grounding in the methods and content of the 1 discipline

Dimensions of graduateness are further defined into three areas:

    ; Cognitive: knowledge and understanding; analysis; synthesis/creativity and


    ; Transferable skills: psycho-motor; self appraisal reflection on practice;

    planning and management; problem solving; communication and presentation

    skills and interactive and group skills. 2; Operational contexts: responsibility; ethical understanding

    There are also a number of useful definitions of employability. Knight and York state that employability is influenced by four broad and interrelated components:

; Understanding (subject knowledge and understanding)

    ; Skills (generic and transferable)

    ; Efficacy beliefs (students‟ self theories, personal qualities and belief that they

    can make a difference) 3; Metacognition (self awareness and ability to reflect on, in and for action)

Dacre Pool and Sewell further define employability as:

    “Having a set of skills, knowledge, understanding and personal attributes

    that make a person more likely to choose and secure occupations in 4which they can be satisfied and successful “

    The nature of the Futures Award is the development and reflection of key transferable skills rather than the growth of theoretical knowledge.

    The model depicted in Figure 1 illustrates the essential components of employability and also suggests the direction of interaction between the various elements. The mnemonic “CareerEDGE” is used as an aid to remember the five components on the lower tier of the model. It is suggested that providing students with opportunities for them to access and develop everything on this lower tier and essentially, for reflecting on and evaluating these experiences, will result in development of higher levels of self-efficacy, self confidence and self esteem the crucial links to

    employability and enterprise.

     1 The Higher Education Quality Council (HEQC) (1996) What Are Graduates? Clarifying The Attributes of „Graduateness‟ – A paper to stimulate discussion. London: HEQC 2 The Higher Education Credit Initiative Wales (HECIW) and the South-East England Consortium for Credit Accumulation and Transfer (SEEC). 2005 3 USEM Model by Peter Knight and Manz Yorke, 2003: 4 Dacre Pool and Sewell (2007) “The Key to employability – developing a practical model of graduate

    employability” Education & Training Vol 49 pp 277-288


    Student Employability & Enterprise Bede Mullen November 2008

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The Futures Award Structure

    The Award at level 1 provides students with a number of 10 credit Personal Development Planning (PDP) options. These include:

; Career Development Workshops

    ; Enterprise Workshops or Competitions

    ; Personal Development

    ; IT Workshops

    ; Specific e-learn Portfolio activity

    ; Communication Skills

    ; Continuing Professional Development

    ; Improving Memory Skills

    The University‟s existing Personal Tutoring System will guide students toward the PDP options that best suit individual or course needs.

    The remainder of the options throughout the programme have been streamed into themes as follows:

; Learning through Work (compulsory module*)

    ; Enterprise

    ; Career Preparation

    ; Volunteering and Community

    ; Leadership and Mentoring

    ; Going Global

    A form of work experience will be compulsory to the Award whether that is through a live student project or actual work experience, be it part time/casual or of a more professional nature.


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The categories of the UCLan Futures Award are as follows

; Futures Bronze Award for successful completion of 20 credits.

    ; Futures Silver Award for successful completion of 30 credits.

    ; Futures Gold Award for successful completion of the Silver Award, plus a

    significant undertaking of professional work experience.

UCLan Futures Award

    30 Credits Plus Significant Work Experience - UCLan Futures Gold Award

    Industrial First Year In First Year Of

    Placement Scheme Industry Incubation

    30 Credits - UCLan Futures Silver Award

    10 Credits 10 Credits 10 Credits 10 Credits 10 Credits 10 Credits Level 2 / 3 Level 2 / 3 Level 2 / 3 Level 2 / 3 Level 2 / 3 Level 2 / 3

    20 Credits - UCLan Futures Bronze Award

    10 Credits 10 Credits 10 Credits 10 Credits 10 Credits 10 Credits Level 1 / 2 Level 1 / 2 Level 1 / 2 Level 1 / 2 Level 1 / 2 Level 1 / 2

    Learning Going Career Volunteering Leadership Enterprise Through Work Global Preparation / Community / Mentoring 10 Credits 10 Credits 10 Credits 10 Credits 10 Credits Level 1 Level 1 Level 1 Level 1 Level 1

    CDP CPD ISS IT Study Skills Portfolio

Working in Partnership with Sri Lankan Universities

    UCLan has engaged in pioneering work in implementing strategies for student employability and enterprise in all of its courses and for all of its students. The University is happy to share its experience with Sri Lankan colleagues, specifically: ; To provide access to our policy papers, strategy and implementation plans. ; To arrange for study visits by Sri Lankan policy makers, administrators and

    academics to UCLan to observe the implementation of the strategy. ; To establish web based fora and virtual networks to promote student

    employability and enterprise and co-operation between the UK and Sri Lanka. For staff of Sri Lankan Universities.

    ; To provide access to a Certificate in International Career Planning, validated by

    UCLan, developed as a result of a PMI2 project with Shanghi Institute of Foreign

    Trade (SIFT).


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    ; To provide access to a Post Graduate Module, based on the UCLan Teaching

    Toolkit, to train staff in the delivery of Career Planning.

    ; To provide examples of UCLan case studies for Sri Lankan Universities to

    embed within teaching material and academic books.

    For Sri Lankan students.

    ; To provide access to a range of on-line employability and enterprise modules

    such as:

    o University Certificate in New Business Enterprise

    o University Certificate in Career Planning

    ; To establish virtual communities of students between the UK and Sri Lanka using

    web technology. (Face Book etc.)

    ; To link UCLan student start-up business with like minded Sri Lankan students to

    further develop their entrepreneurial aspirations.


Bede Mullen has been Director of Knowledge Transfer at the

    University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) since August 2004. He

    has responsibility for all aspects of UCLan‟s work with external

    organisations: partnership development, employer engagement, IP

    and the commercialisation of research and the provision of UCLan

    products and services such as CPD, contract research and


In addition he is responsible for all aspects of UCLan‟s strategy in relation to student

    enterprise and employability. This ambitious strategy will ensure all 32,000 UCLan students have access to employability and enterprise education as part of their programme of studies. This will be recognised by an additional student award given at graduation. Bede has been responsible for successfully generating high levels of external funding to UCLan since 2005. Most significant in this context is the establishment of a ?5.5m facility for student start-up businesses in the University‟s

    state-of-the-art Media Factory building. He has direct responsibility for a number of regionally significant projects: Urban Regeneration, Graduate Retention and Graduate Entrepreneurship. Through this activity, Bede has managed to increase UCLan‟s portfolio of external activity to approximately ?27m per annum.

    Bede has worked in higher education in the UK and abroad for the past 25 years. His career includes time as an academic and as a senior education manager. He is a former director of a successful University spin-out company and is currently a director of a social enterprise company providing alternative education for young people, particularly those at risk of offending.


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