More than just a degree: stories of empowered students

sophie cousens

We have news for you: universities have changed and so have the students who study there – and not in the way you might think.

We refute notions of lazy students, unresponsive universities and unsatisfied employers and we have the stories to prove it.

They are stories of universities without borders – providing a multi-dimensional, incredibly broad environment. And of empowered students – dynamic, entrepreneurial, focussed – making the most of the endless possibilities on offer to learn, explore and grow.

More than just a degree - cover
Politicians and commentators quite rightly ask what we are getting in return for the investment in universities and universities haven’t always been good at explaining or demonstrating this. This is partly because the very aspects that are so valuable and unique about universities, that make the investment so worthwhile, can often seem intangible.
Here at University Alliance, an organisation bringing together 23 UK universities with government and business, we wanted to find a better way of describing it; so we asked the students.

Over the course of six months we interviewed students from a number of Alliance universities. We wanted to find out what made them tick, what they wanted from life and to learn more about the ups and downs of their journey through university and
beyond. What emerges is a diverse picture of rich experiences driven by the unique aspirations and choices of each individual student.

Their stories are about so much more than lectures, seminars and essays. They are about building confidence, taking ownership and making the most of what is on offer: saying ‘yes’ at pivotal moments; exploring and shaping a broad learning environment; doing research on the shoreline; delivering a multi-national project; stepping into professional practice; endless opportunities at university and beyond. These students are fully in the driving seat to gain the education they need and to shape the experience that they want from their time at university.

It is often asked whether graduates are being adequately prepared for their future careers and the world around them. As these stories show, forward- thinking universities like the members of University Alliance consistently ask themselves the same question as they shape, plan and develop the experience they offer. They are coming up with innovative solutions to equip their students for the challenges ahead.

Download ‘More than just a degree: stories of empowered students’ [PDF]

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