22 SES 02 C, Employability and Transition to Work of Higher Education Graduates
The paper presents an empirical study on the extent and modes of interaction between higher education institutions and public and private sector organizations. The study is novel in its focus on educational collaboration where most research and policy interest has targeted research collaborations. The study is also novel because it is among the first to attempt to gauge the role and experiences of students in such collaborative relations through a large cohort study of university graduates.
In Europe the last decade has seen an increasing emphasis on collaborative models and practices in higher education. New types of study programmes with a more applied and cross-disciplinary profile have built-in components such as practice periods, internships, doing projects or writing reports for companies, aiming to meet a diverse set of expected learning outcomes and to enhance the employability of their graduates. Such development can be seen in most countries and higher education institutions and has been spurred on by the Bologna process and by the implementation of the European Qualification Framework.
Most professional oriented study programmes tend to have well-developed institutional structures for facilitating collaboration aiming at preparing students for work life. What is new, and what we readily observe in our study, is that such practices are now found in all kinds of educational programmes. Since these kinds of interactions with prospective employers in private firms and public sector organisations are now prevalent in higher education, we need to know more about what this is really about and what effects it has. With this in mind, the paper focuses on the following research questions: How common is it for students to interact with firms and/or public sector organisations as part of their educational programmes and how does interaction occur? What kind of benefits does the interaction have for the students?
The theoretical framework that guides the analysis is based on prior research on collaborative relations between higher education institutions and external organisations (Abreu et al 2009, Bishop et al 2011, Ramos-Vielba & Fernandez-Esquinas 2012), emphasising particularly prior research on education related collaboration, which is more limited (Thune 2011, Billett 2009, 2011, Person & Rosenbaum 2006).Based on a review of literature on work experiences integrated in higher education (Billett 2009, 2011, Person & Rosenbaum 2006) and review of literature on transition from higher education to work (Mouw 2003, Rosenbaum et al 1990, Granovetter 1995), a set of hypotheses about the study and labour market effects of interacting with work life organizations was formulated and tested. The paper makes a theoretical contribution by integrating learning oriented theory about the value of work life oriented learning and network theory explaining transition to work, and aims to make a contribution to knowledge in this area by targeting both potential effects that can be realised during education and labour market effects of work life integration in higher education.
Abreu, M., et al 2009: Knowledge exchange between academics and the business, public and third sectors. UK Innovation Research Center, Cambridge University Billett, S. (2009). "Realising the educational worth of integrating work experiences in higher education." Studies in Higher Education 34(7): 827-843. Billett, S. (2011). Integrating Experiences in Workplace and University Settings: A Conceptual Perspective. Developing Learning Professionals. S. Billett and A. Henderson, Springer Netherlands. 7: 21-40. Bishop K, D’Este P, Neely A (2011). Gaining from interactions with universities: Multiple methods for nurturing absorptive capacity. Research Policy, 40: 30-40. Granovetter, M. 1995. Getting a job. A study of contacts and careers. University of Chicago Press Mouw, T. (2003): “Social capital and finding a job: Do contacts matter?” American sociological review, Vol. 68 Person, A. E. og Rosenbaum, J. E. (2006):”Educational outcomes of labor market linking and job placement for students at public and private 2-year colleges”. Economics of Education Review, Vol. 25 Ramos-Vielba, I. & Fernandez-Esquinas, M. 2012 Beneath the tip of the iceberg: exploring the multiple forms of university–industry linkages. Higher education, Volume 64, Issue 2, August 2012 Rosenbaum, J. E. et al (1990): ”Markets and network theories of the transition from high school to work: Their application to industrialized societies”. Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 16 Thune, T. (2011):»Success factors in higher education – industry collaboration: a case study of collaboration in the engineering field. Tertiary Education and Management, Spring 2011
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