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Students unconvinced that courses prepare them for the workplace

LONDON, August 16, 2016 - Concerns about whether university prepares graduates for the world of work are casting doubt over the value for money it provides students, new research suggests.

The study from Canvas, the virtual learning environment (VLE) 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 equip 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 degrees ready for work. The majority (55%) of students are looking for courses developed in close partnership with employers, and even more of them (80%) want the ability to collaborate with employers directly. 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.

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. And technology is prevalent; most students (58%) said that computers are widely available for them to use, and almost half (47%) said they have regular access to virtual learning environments, meaning they can learn anytime, anywhere, just as they would do in the real world—which helps them to prepare for an increasingly digital workforce.

Today’s sixth-formers also see the content they create at university as having the power to impact their personal development and support 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 it 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 reuse their content.

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 toward 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.”

About Instructure, the creator of Canvas
Instructure, Inc. is the software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology company that makes software that makes people smarter. With a vision to help maximise the potential of people through technology, Instructure enables organisations everywhere to easily develop, deliver and manage engaging face-to-face and online learning experiences. To date, Instructure has connected millions of instructors and learners at more than 2,000 educational institutions and corporations throughout the world. Learn more about the Canvas Virtual Learning Environment and

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1. Source: Jisc,
(Technology for Employability), November 2015

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