CGHE Seminar 22

Employability in higher education: tensions, risks and alternatives

The employability agenda in higher education has spread from its original base in the Anglo-Saxon countries to become a veritable global phenomenon. While to a large extent it is endorsed by supranational agencies, nation states, institutions and students alike, it nevertheless presents some highly problematic implications for universities.

This seminar starts by outlining examples of employability provision in higher education and their implications from a recent research project in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Next, there is a normative analysis of the question, highlighting three dimensions: the implications for equality of opportunity, given middle-class capture of employability enhancing activities; the ethical relevance for universities, and the impact on the moral and civic development of students; and the coherence of the agenda with the fundamental purposes of the university. Attention to these three factors demands a serious rethinking of the practice of employability in higher education.

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Tristan McCowan

Tristan McCowan

Tristan McCowan is a Co-Investigator on CGHE’s global higher education engagement research programme.

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