At Swansea University, the principles of student opportunities are what define a students’ opportunity to develop both the academic and practical experience which suitably prepares them for their chosen career after graduation. The principle of student opportunities is to ensure equal and inclusivity of opportunity for students to develop employability skills within industry. In essence, all students should have access to industry-based skills development as part of their learning experience.
Therefore, whilst this section will outline the University-wide initiatives, Colleges/Schools are encouraged to think about which opportunities may best suit the subjects covered within their learning environment and the skills students may require from their disciplines. In this context, staff are encouraged to think outside of academic achievement and how an experience, such as a work placement, year in industry or achievement awards (such as HEAR or SEA) may add to student development and student mobility.
The Quality Assurance Agency UK Quality Code provide guidance on the overarching principles of student opportunities.
Student mobility aims to deliver a range of enhanced learning opportunities including study, work and volunteering abroad, for periods of between a week and a year, at destinations worldwide on both credit-bearing and non-credit bearing programmes.
Student Mobility and Internationalisation are embedded in the University’s International Strategy 2020-2025, which, incorporating inclusivity principles, outlines:
- Every student will have the opportunity to undertake an international experience as part of their degree;
- The University will consider the development of digital solutions to enable international collaboration and remote course delivery and sharing of resources internationally;
- The University will increase in students undertaking period of study or work abroad by 2025.
It is important academic delivery is complemented by supporting students in developing the practical and professional skills they will need to move into their chosen career, industry or field. Therefore, all academics, module leaders and programme directors, are encouraged to design curricula which challenge students on both an academic and professional level.
What opportunities are available?
There are several initiatives spanning the University, which give students the opportunity to enhance their employability, academic or life skill set. These include:
- Semester or Full Year Study Placements under the Go Global programme: Study placements give students the opportunity to undertake modules, or a full year of study, at an approved partner institution. It is an opportunity to promote student mobility and, in a time of global markets, promote internationalisation. As an approved institution, the host institution can award assessment credit for the academic year (Full Year Study Placement) or for credit in lieu of credits which would have normally been undertaken at Swansea (Semester Study Placement). There are numerous case studies, from Swansea University students’ placement experiences, available on the Exchange Students page.
- Student Enterprise: Swansea University recognises that not all students will have a defined career path, profession or field of work. There are students who are entrepreneurial in nature and, as a result, may require support in developing skills in this area.
- Throughout the academic year, there are various opportunities for students to receive more information about being an entrepreneur. The What’s On section has a list of all events taking place. It doesn’t matter what career path a student is thinking about these sessions are open to all.
- Swansea University Higher Education Achievement Award: The Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR) is a way for students to further evidence their employability through a comprehensive record of all their learning and achievements during their time at Swansea University.
- Swansea Employability Award: This 4-module award allows students to gain additional employability skills, outside of those developed on their course, to give their curriculum vitae a boost in the competitive employment market. Students can choose to take between 1 and 4 modules which, once completed, are added to a student’s HEAR.
- Discovery Volunteering: A great way to promote student opportunity, and embed the University into the local community, is to encourage students, either through their own time or as an element of academic delivery, to undertake volunteering.
- SLATES Project: The project aims to embed students into the learning and teaching experience at Swansea University. Additionally, it is a great way for students to develop several employability skills. As part of the project, students, working in collaboration with an academic member of staff, can pitch their ideas on how to improve the student experience, to secure up to £500. The proposal can focus on a range of areas, learning, engagement, assessment, transition or employability.
- Student Representation: Throughout the University, students at all levels of study are given the opportunity to be student representatives. The Students’ Union looks for representation from each year group, in all disciplines, to act as voices for their cohort. This gives elected representatives the opportunity to attend a range of meetings and events, alongside staff, and influence the way a School, College or the University operate. Student representatives also have the opportunity to feedback to the wider University on a range of student-facing issues through the Student Representative Committee (SPEC).
For more information on all student opportunities, including employability, please contact Swansea Employability Academy.
Embedding student opportunities into module and programme delivery should form a fundamental part of all teaching. Colleagues should use Annual Module Review and Annual Programme Review as opportunities to review current approaches and evaluate how, through work placements, year in industry and other employability-focused activities, employability can be embedded into delivery. Annual Programme Review is informed by the QAA Quality Code Advice and Guidance on Monitoring and Evaluation.
Academic Quality Services also provide guidance through ‘Designing a new Programme of study’ information, to assist colleagues in completing the Programme Approval and Management online information.
How can I ensure inclusivity when providing student opportunities?
The University’s commitment to widening access, and inclusivity, aims to:
- Create a supportive and enriching learning environment for all our students;
- Support students to achieve the highest personal, academic, and employment outcomes;
- Increase the participation of students from under-represented groups and communities, and provide the quality of support needed to enable their success;
- Provide a safe, inclusive, and supportive environment that upholds our commitment to improving diversity and enables people to fulfil their potential.
Should you require any information, or guidance, to ensure inclusivity when offering student opportunities, please contact Swansea Academy of Inclusivity and Learner Success (SAILS), who work to provide inclusive academic and pastoral support for our diverse student population, or Swansea Academy of Learning and Teaching (SALT), who develop staff in inclusive teaching, learning, assessment and accessibility to student employability skills development opportunities.
Guidance Resources, Further Reading and Directory of Effective Practice for Student Opportunities
- Swansea University Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR)
- Swansea University Student Enterprise Scheme
- Swansea Employability Award
- Swansea University and University of Texas Partnership
- Universities UK International – Widening Participation in outward Student Mobility
- Universities UK Stand Out’ Student Mobility Guide
- Erasmus+ Supporting disadvantaged students in HE mobility
- MAPPED Inclusive Mobility
- Henrietta Standley (2015) ‘International mobility placements enable students and staff in Higher Education to enhance transversal and employability-related skills’
- MaUniMo guidance on ‘Improving, increasing and contextualising mobility’
- Prospects.ac.uk Work Placements Explained
- ASET Integrating Work and Learning
- University of Oxford Internship Best Practice
- Swansea University Student Representation
For more examples, you can visit Academic Quality’s Effective Practice Directory.
Policies and Legislation
- University’s Learning and Teaching Strategy 2019-2024
- The Equality Act (2010)
- Swansea University Guidelines on Mobility – https://myuni.swansea.ac.uk/academic-life/academic-regulations/assessment-and-progress/guidelines-on-mobility-opportunities/
- Swansea University Inclusivity and Widening Access – Swansea University Strategy for Inclusivity and Widening Access 2017-2020
- UK Quality Code for Higher Education – https://www.qaa.ac.uk/en/quality-code/advice-and-guidance/work-based-learning
- QAA UK Quality Code for monitoring and Evaluation – QAA Quality Code Advice and Guidance on Monitoring and Evaluation