Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

New Experience for Degree Hopefuls? Placements Could Soon Earn Credits

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

New Experience for Degree Hopefuls? Placements Could Soon Earn Credits

Article excerpt

Byline: James Moore

STUDENTS at a prestigious North East university may be able to do work experience that will count towards their degrees. Durham University chiefs say they are exploring ways which will allow students to carry out community and work-based placements to give them extra marks towards their degree.

Plans for how much the work would count towards qualifications was not yet certain but bosses said they were developing how the scheme would work. Workplace skills courses are a compulsory part of vocationally-orientated degree courses but it is believed to be the first time that humanities and social science subjects are to be included.

It comes as employers increasingly complain that graduates lack skills including leadership and good communication.

The National Union of Students welcomed the move but warned against work experience being carried out at the expense of teaching time.

NUS president Aaron Porter said: "It is important that universities recognise the wide-range of skills and experience that students gain during their time at university and with the majority of students now having to work whilst studying, we welcome a recognition of this work as course credits.

"However, universities should not use this as an excuse to further cut back contact time or in any way reduce the level of teaching they provide to students."

Other universities, including University College London and Leicester University, are also considering plans to allow extra marks to be gained from work experience.

Earlier this month universities in the region were forced to defend themselves against "dumbing down" after figures showed big rises in the number of students getting top degrees.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that the proportion of students getting first class degrees at Sunderland University has quadrupled between 1997 and 2010. …

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