University plans award scheme to recognise student achievements

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An award scheme aimed at helping students recognise, acquire, and record the skills and experiences that graduate employers are looking out for is to be set up by the University, it has been revealed.

The ‘Lancaster Award’ is to be run as a pilot this year for a small number of students before being rolled out across the University in 2009/10 if the pilot is successful.

The programme is intended to provide a much needed boost to Lancaster’s lacklustre graduate employability, which was reported in SCAN recently. Only 60.9% in the graduate prospects category of the Times University Guide 2008, which was significantly lower to similarly ranked Universities.

Part of the idea behind the award is to provide a record of the wide range of skills and experience that students gain through their time spent at university which are not currently recognised formally. Activities that students participate in during their first and second years will be judged against the criteria required to gain the award. The activities will cover a range of different areas and skills in four main sections.

As part of the award criteria, students will be required to attend careers workshops, run by the University’s Centre for Employability Enterprise and Careers (CEEC). These will include the two-day “Insight into Business and Management” course and at least one other workshop on, for example, CV writing or interview techniques.

The second area for assessment shall be “Community and Social Activities”. This section will include recognition of volunteering work (e.g. work done through LUVU) and involvement on JCRs, in LUSU, in clubs or societies or in other similar areas. The third of the four sections is used to recognise work experience gained by the student and the fourth will be dedicated to miscellaneous skills not covered by the other three. Examples could include courses in languages, IT, or first aid.

At the moment it is still unclear as to how this award would be assessed or how many extra administrative staff will be needed to administer the scheme. The financial cost to the University in implementing this scheme would depend heavily upon these staffing issues. Worryingly, the University are cannot say how much money will be needed or where it will come from.

By Robert Maidstone

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