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Employability and graduate outcomes in the Arts and Humanities

posted on 2024-05-21, 15:36 authored by Richard Marsden, Angeliki LymberopoulouAngeliki Lymberopoulou, Joanne FallowsJoanne Fallows, Edward Swithenby, Sara Wolfson, Beverley Mason, Claire Blanchard

The school of Arts and Humanities faces some significant challenges around employability and graduate outcomes. There is an increasing emphasis on vocational subjects in the public discourse around university education. This seems likely to be reflected in government policy with regards to HE; subjects that can be considered technical, practical and / or applied could well be privileged in both a financial and a regulatory sense over those that are not. In addition, there is a growing emphasis on KPIs, including graduate outcomes, as a measure of the quality of qualifications and institutions as well a means of informing student choice. These are difficult developments for the OU as a whole given its undergraduate open entry policy and reduced entry requirements at postgraduate. However, they are particularly challenging for our Arts and Humanities provision. Our most recent information on our students’ study motivations is that 28% are studying for personal development, 28% are studying for career and personal reasons, while 36% did not declare a motivation. The data we are currently able to collect doesn’t capture more subtle ways in which students’ studies may affect their career and employability choices over time. In addition, Arts and Humanities disciplines tend to emphasise and deliver transferable rather than vocational skills and competencies. The perception, therefore, is that Arts and Huminites has an employability ‘problem’. The project will assess the accuracy of that assumption by producing a detailed picture of how Arts and Humanities graduate outcomes at the OU compare to those in other disciplines at the OU those in Arts and Humanities across the rest of the sector those in other disciplines across the rest of the sector. The findings of this work will inform future decisions around the production of potential new curriculum, as well as curriculum design at the qualification and module level. In support of that second element, the project will also explore how employability-related teaching is embedded in Arts and Humanities curriculum and student experience at the OU, compared to how it is done at other institutions. This will provide a set of best practices to inform the embedding of employability, and the balance between transferable and vocational skills and competencies, in new and existing curriculum.



  • Internal use only

Institutional priority category

  • Employability and Career Progression


  • Employability

Subject discipline

  • Arts and Humanities

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