Academic journal article International Education Studies

Graduate Attributes for Higher Education and Their Development in Bahrain

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Graduate Attributes for Higher Education and Their Development in Bahrain

Article excerpt

Abstract

The general consensus in our society to the primary aim in obtaining a university degree is to improve one's wellbeing by obtaining a suitable well paid position after graduation. Many educationalists disagree with this goal to be the ultimate as stated by Haigh and Clifford (2010) 'there is more to life than doing a job. The graduates of our higher education system will be more than employees/employers, they will also be future leaders in our world and our neighbours and so affect our lives at all levels'. It is statements such as these that sparked the Graduate Attributes debate that has been going on over the past two decades and has recently intensified. This paper addresses Graduate Attributes as an issue that has been underestimated by higher education across the globe, but recently there have been some efforts to formalize and appropriately articulate them within the curriculum. The paper looks at Graduate Attributes as they are perceived by educators worldwide and presents some of the recent international efforts to establish attributes for higher education. The generic attributes that are suggested by a number of educational entities are presented and compared to find the commonalities of recommended attributes for future graduates. A discussion of the state of Graduate Attributes in Bahrain's higher education sector is carried out including a brief review and general observations of the attributes as published by a number of universities for Business and IT disciplines. The paper addresses the requirements of the National Authority for Qualifications and Quality Assurance of Education and Training in Bahrain and its possible impact on improving the state of Graduate Attributes offered by higher education institutions in Bahrain.

Keywords: Graduate Attributes, higher education, learning outcomes, quality assurance

1. Introduction

The general consensus in our society to the primary aim in obtaining a university degree is to improve one's wellbeing by obtaining a suitable well paid position after graduation. Many educationalists disagree with this goal to be the ultimate as stated by Haigh and Clifford (2010) 'there is more to life than doing a job. The graduates of our higher education system will be more than employees/employers, they will also be future leaders in our world and our neighbours and so affect our lives at all levels'. It is statements such as these that sparked the Graduate Attributes debate that has been going on over the past two decades and has recently intensified.

The term 'Graduate Attribute' [GA] by itself has been defined differently by educationalists; the most popular is the one from Bowden, Hart, King, Trigwell, and Watts (2000) who describe GAs as 'the qualities, skills and understandings a university community agrees its students would desirably develop during their time at the institution and, consequently, shape the contribution they are able to make to their profession and as a citizen'. On one hand Pitman and Broomhall (2009) argue that the term is abstract and demonstrates broad concepts for employability, lifelong learning, preparation for an uncertain future, and social justice, but on the other hand, the International Engineering Alliance [IEA] (2009) defines GAs as the 'set of individually assessable outcomes that are the components indicative of the graduate's potential to acquire competence to practise at the appropriate level. The Graduate Attributes are exemplars of the attributes expected of graduates from an accredited programme'. Barrie and Prosser (2004) argue that 'Graduate Attributes seek to describe the core outcomes of a higher education. In doing so, they specify an aspect of the institution's contribution to society and carry with them implicit and sometimes explicit assumptions as to the purpose and nature of higher education'.

In this paper we explore this interesting issue in some depth. In section two we investigate a number of initiatives in establishing GAs at the national, discipline, and university levels. …

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