Just a third of undergrads believe uni gives value for money

Students unconvinced that courses prepare them for the workplace

Concerns about whether university prepares graduates for the world of work is casting doubt over the value for money it provides students, new research suggests.

The study from Canvas, the Virtual Learning Environment for academic institutions and companies worldwide, reveals that just one in three (30%) current undergraduates believe they are getting their money’s worth from their degree course, and with university tuition fees set to rise next year, the figure falls to just a fifth (21%) among sixth formers who are considering their next move.

The research shows that students believe higher education curricula should be equipping them for the world of work but universities are falling short of expectations. The study finds that less than a third (31%) of undergraduates believe their studies are relevant to the workplace, and one in four (23%) says their current course is doing little to prepare them for work.

This is far from the expectations of sixth formers who want to come out of their degree ready for work. The majority (55%) of students are looking for courses developed in close partnership with employers, and with the ability to collaborate with them directly (80%). The research highlights just how important getting a job upon graduation is when choosing a university, with two fifths (41%) citing “employability” as a crucial factor in their decision.

Image removed.Kenny Nicholl, director of higher education at Canvas, said: “Too many current and future undergraduates feel that they’re not being prepared for employment, and as a result few believe their degree provides value for money. It is up to universities to bridge this gap by ensuring students have the skills and knowledge to thrive in the modern workforce. This means being tech-savvy and able to embrace continuous learning.”

As technology becomes more central to the learning experience, helping students to work flexibly, hone investigative problem-solving skills, and connect easily with teachers and peers, universities are expected to provide the latest equipment and programmes. Technology, such as computers (58%) and Virtual Learning Environments (47%) are already widely available for students to use, meaning they can learn anytime, anywhere, just as they would do in the real world - helping them to prepare for an increasingly digital workforce.

Today’s sixth formers also see the content they create at university at the heart of their personal development supporting a lifelong learning approach, where education doesn’t stop at graduation.  A quarter (24%) expect to take content created at university with them, and put to use at work. However, the research suggests that technology enabling greater ‘ease of portability’ is lagging in some universities, with fewer than one in ten (9%) undergraduates saying they will actually be able to do this.

Kenny Nicholl continues: “Putting technology at the heart of university life helps students learn  the skills that employers need. Technology like Canvas helps move teaching away from rote inside the classroom, to enabling a collaborative and interactive learning environment, where knowledge is applied to real situations, and investigative skills are developed. Empowering students to take control of their own learning breeds a new generation of student - more enthused, engaged and accountable - and ready to make an impact in the working world. In a competitive market, the universities that embrace change with new technologies and demonstrate how they can make their students ‘employable’ are likely to attract the best students.