Students need to be smart when picking their university, says UWE Bristol VC

Issue date: 18 August 2016

Professor Steve West

League tables do not hold all the answers for students pondering their choice of university, according to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).

As A-level results are released today, Professor Steve West has encouraged college leavers not to rely on league tables as their main filter.

He has advised students and their parents that the tables may not be measuring what matters most to them. Professor West has spoken out after it emerged the latest Times & Sunday Times University League Table based only 10% of its assessment on the extent to which a university prepares its students for a good job.

He said: “Four years from now, 80 per cent of new jobs will involve the analytical, problem solving and complex communication skills afforded by a university education.

“The employment market will be increasingly dominated by managerial, professional and associated technical occupations.

“Students will want to be sure that, when they leave university, they can compete for these jobs.”

The Times table for 2016 based 14% of its assessment on the university's research performance and 10% on the entry grades of its student intake.

There will be some students for whom this is the most important information – but others will care more about whether their degree course prepares them for the job they want to do. They will be interested in whether it is accredited by the appropriate professional body and whether work experience and employability skills are built in. Many will also care about how the course is taught as some students prefer to learn experientially – for example by solving real-world problems in teams - rather than through traditional academic methods.

Modern, civic universities, like UWE Bristol, have transformed the way undergraduates learn. They are as passionate about research as their traditional counterparts, but often focus more on the direct needs of industry and the professions. They have strong partnerships with local and national employers and can offer their students the opportunity to gain knowledge in different settings, working on employer-led projects and testing their skills in 'live' contexts.

The result? Graduates with the kind of up-to-the-minute qualifications and entrepreneurial mindsets that provide a head start when it comes to finding employment.

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