Universities and Science Minister Chris Skidmore has announced a £10 million competition to help boost the benefits to students getting involved in knowledge exchange activities in the UK.
The Office for Students (OfS) and Research England will support a range of projects exploring how students benefits from involvement in knowledge exchange – the work universities do to share their knowledge and skills outside the academic community for the benefit of society and the economy.
English universities, in 2017-18, generated over £3.7 billion from knowledge exchange activity.
This has helped create over 3,500 graduate start-up businesses, attracting over £146 million of investment.
University knowledge exchange in the UK covers a range of activities: partnerships with businesses, engagement with communities and third sector organisations, and professional training.
As well as establishing start-ups and spin-off companies, skilled students will solve problems and provide skills and expertise for businesses, public services and community groups through consultancy, internships and work placements.
Quantifying the benefit to students essential to maximising benefit
The OfS says students gain skills and experience as well access to growing networks, thus increasing their employability.
Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of OfS, said: “The OfS wants all students to gain the skills they need to succeed in employment or further study. We also want to make sure that the pipeline of graduate talent meets the needs of employers today and tomorrow.
“This funding competition will help identify the best ways for students – especially those from underrepresented backgrounds – to get involved in activities at their universities that will benefit them, their communities and the economy.”
It is harder to identify the scale of students’ experience and contribution and to quantify the benefits they receive.
There is also great benefit to had in understanding how these benefits could be spread more widely across the sector.
The joint call from OfS and Research England will support projects that identify the best ways to ensure that all participants in knowledge exchange activities benefit; that provide evidence of ways knowledge exchange activities involve or benefit students directly; demonstrate and share effective practice in knowledge exchange activities that benefit students; and, address issues of equality, diversity and inclusion within existing knowledge exchange activities.
Ultimately, the OfS says, it is a clearer articulation of ‘what works’ in effective knowledge exchange that will help universities ensure they are delivering value for money for the benefit of students and taxpayers.
Kate Frazer is a reporter for Global Education Times with a focus on UK/Ireland and North American education news. When she is not writing for GET News, Kate spends her time as an English and Maths tutor, and is currently pursuing her PGCE in Secondary Mathematics.
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