UK universities urged to forge better links with business

Aug 16 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Universities have been warned that they need to do more to build links with local employers if they want to increase the workplace skills and employability of their graduates.

Research by Britain's University of Hertfordshire's Graduate Forum has concluded that the best work experience for graduates is often found through a university's relationship with local employers.

Yet close to one in three employers admitted they did not offer any work experience at their organisation Ė despite almost half ranking relevant work experience as one of the most important things when looking for potential new recruits.

Currently fewer than a third of businesses said they had a good relationship with their local university and 29 per cent claimed to have no relationship at all with local higher education institutions.

Just as worrying, despite close to half of employers agreeing their organisation should have a stronger relationship with their local university, only a quarter were actively planning to forge better links over the next few years.

Stephen Boffey, pro-vice-chancellor and director of admissions at the Hertfordshire, said: "It is essential that all universities and employers work together to offer paid or unpaid work experience to undergraduates so that students are 'work ready' when they graduate. This will help to build the workforce for tomorrow.

"If students are selecting a university, either this September or through the university clearing process, school leavers will need to think very carefully about the institution's links with employers to increase their prospects of employment when they graduate," he added.

Despite the increasing cost of university, a degree still opened doors to employment and increased the probability of a higher wage in the future, with graduates set to earn on average more £2,500 a year more than someone with just A-level qualifications, the forum stressed.