Thursday, September 27, 2012

Knowledge and the real world

A shortened version of my post "Employability of Higher Degree Research Graduates", without the references, appeared in The Australian Newspaper's Higher Education section, 19 September 2012, with the title "Knowledge and the 'real world'":
EVER since Plato set up The Academy in an olive grove 2000 years ago, employers have complained that academia is not producing graduates suitable for work in the real world. Some university courses are vocational, but that is not the primary purpose of a university. If employers want staff with vocational skills then they need to select those applicants who have the right qualifications and then train them on-the-job. 
Do not be fooled by claims from some educational institutions of generic skills and graduate attributes. 
Ask to see where the skills you want are in the curriculum and how they are assessed. If the skills are not taught and tested, they probably don't exist, except in the minds of the marketing department. 
At the highest levels, university is about research to create new knowledge. There are two other types of masters degrees that can include professional practice: the coursework masters and the extended masters. A doctoral degree is about new knowledge, which can include professional practice, but not all do. If you want a researcher then hire anyone with a masters or PhD in research, but otherwise look for graduates with vocational qualifications and work-relevant research.
From: Knowledge and the 'real world', Torn Worthington, ANU, The Australian, Higher Education section, 19 September 2012

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