The competition among universities to secure students is greater than ever and as Malcolm Paice, Chief Operating Officer for Keystone Employment Group explains, being able to demonstrate a strong student employability programme can be a key advantage.
Pick up any university prospectus and it’s apparent how much more competitive the landscape has become in the fight to win prospective new students for the next academic year.
High tuition fees and the urgency to achieve value for money means students are taking far more considered decisions than simply looking at the academic record of an institution.
Universities now need to demonstrate – with real tangible evidence – that their graduates have a better chance of finding decent, paid work and will leave the university well equipped for the fiercely competitive jobs market. Any university that can cite the success of their alumni will have an edge over one that does not have such evidence – or simply doesn’t know.
And knowing is a key challenge. Many universities will be familiar with the difficulties in gathering the data needed for the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey- not least because keeping in touch with students after they have graduated can be so inconsistent. With many universities seeking to attract overseas students the problem of tracking graduate success can only get tougher as they depart the UK to find work in their home nations or abroad. Increasingly the concept of having a team of people ‘ringing round’ graduates as part of the DLHE drive seems remarkably outdated and inefficient.
Data is key in not only being able to handle the DLHE survey requirements effectively, but also to effectively demonstrate a university’s credibility when it comes to student employability. If a university does not know what the employment path is for their graduates and alumni then it cannot use that in effective marketing to the next wave of prospective students.
The winners in this battle will be the universities that can harness their student’s work activity during and following their studies and thus deploy real, hard data that provides the evidence needed to show how studying at that institution means you gain crucial employability skills and experience whilst studying – and then have a better chance of landing a decent role once graduated.
What would you prefer to see as a prospective student seeking the university that will hopefully lead them to a career – a few paragraphs about ‘excellence’ or hard data showing how many students gained paid work experience during their studies last year and the average salary of the university alumni?
Better still why not show the sectors your graduates work in and the number of hours work experience gained while they studied?
All too often the reporting capabilities available to universities are limited by analogue processes and systems, but the move to improved technology to link students to employers means that this data is now available, and available in dynamic fashion, potentially making light work of the DLHE process but more importantly boosting the marketing collateral for the university.
Having a rich student portfolio online also helps to market your students/graduates to potential employers, as you can dynamically show a business partner the kind of talent you have in your university and thus bring the ‘Job Fair’ concept into the 21st century, by making information available 24/7 around the globe.
Ultimately, in the ever more competitive environment, universities can significantly improve their student’s employability and their own marketing initiatives by harnessing modern technology and using the data it yields to better sell their story.
Keystone Employment Group is the leading provider of online recruitment solutions to the education sector in the UK. It’s industry leading Talent Bank is a cloud based solution that provides university students with an online profile that can be used by the university and its business partners to directly offer work opportunities and track the students employability journey more effectively.
Keystone are approved providers to all major education procurement frameworks including LUPC, SUPC, NEUPC, NWUPC, HEPCW and APUC and will be presenting at the North Western University Purchasing Consortium in Liverpool on 23rd March 2016.