Graduate voice – the missing link in forming modern HE policy

2018-11-12T13:31:06Z (GMT) by Deena Ingham
Higher education today faces increasing competition, significant change and rising costs to institutions and individuals resulting from political policy and subsequent funding decisions. An emphasis on employability; graduate premium (earnings said to be related directly to possession of a degree); political aims to increase graduate numbers sustainably, and in England, rises in individual contributions, have increased scrutiny of the benefit to individuals of a degree. The value of a degree has long been the subject of public debate often conducted in the media whose headlines of escalating student debt have conflicted with the higher education sector’s messages to prospective students of a degree being a sound investment for the future. Wise investment in education is essential for students, institutions and governments alike. How that return on investment is evaluated appears ripe for enhancement (BIS, 2015). Political policy has demanded students are equipped to make an ‘informed choice’ (Browne, 2010). Currently there is no systematic review of graduate value informing prospective students and institutions of a degree’s lifelong impact. What is known about graduates post-degree often stems from marketing material. What impact on education, learning and institutional advancement could more systematic research have on how current students and indeed alumni perceive value in their degrees? Could the degree experience be tailored more effectively through better informed approaches? This paper is based on doctoral research involving 217 undergraduates from different countries, 1-42 years from their degree experience. They identify a significant shortfall in the sources of information for institutional policy makers and programme teams.