Research Profile

Friday, 22 November 2013

UK universities need to do more for the lost and indebted generation

As custodians of our future generation of political, media and business leaders, the new analysis of graduate employability and salaries, should be particularly worrying for universities.

Now, more than ever, we in universities need to help students maximise the value of their educational experience by providing a whole range of support which specifically enhances employability rather than just simply focus on lectures and libraries.

As well as maintaining the traditional skills base, universities should encourage students to think about their options for the future from day one. The old model of coasting until the final year and then picking up a position by pitching up at the corporate milkround is for most, long gone.

Much is made of Britain's vibrant small business community as a prime source of growth, rightly so, as 99% of UK businesses are SME's, some 4.9 million of them. We need to encourage more students to consider a career in small businesses, either as an entrepreneur or employee. 

One of the very best ways of doing so is to provide opportunities for students to experience the excitement of working in a small business, which is why we at UCL have offered internships for students seeking experience in SME's. Schemes such as this we hope will increase the appetite for enterprise in our student community.

We in the UK higher education sector must pick up the pace of change, treat employability seriously and recognise our responsibility for securing Britain’s role in the global economy – otherwise we will become an also-ran. And the next generation will pay the price.


  1. Agreed. Another way of helping students is to build up professional and career training programmes at UCL so that they become a seamless part of the UCL experience. Eg as the UCL Institute of Brand and Innovation Law is doing now for IP lawyers, although this could be developed much further. Why isn't UCL a one-stop-shop for all continuing education needs of all professionals, whether in engineering, law, medicine or other areas?

    The answer may be that professional training is still a poor relation for many academic departments. I look forward to the day when UCL appoints its first Vice-Provost for Professional Training.

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