This page focuses on the element ‘employer and alumni engagement’. It provides a description of the element, highlights its relevance, and provides examples of employer and alumni engagement in the curriculum. Description Diverse and regular involvement with employers and alumni – not solely as guest speakers or providers of placements but also to help inform the curriculum, get involved with student assessment, provide case studies and project ideas, to act as mentors etc. Note: ‘Employer’ is a catch-all term for external organisations or individuals with an interest in the University and in supporting the development of its talent. They may also recruit our students and graduates. Relevance to student development, employability and careers Allowing employers and alumni to inform the curriculum can provide insights into what knowledge and skills students may be expected to display when they move into work. Employers and alumni can provide valuable insights into career options and can enhance students’ professional networks, while highlighting or sharing current trends/challenges across their sector. Tips and things to consider Below you will find some key tips and guidance to consider when involving employers and alumni in your curriculum. Practical tips How can employers or alumni input to the curriculum? Input to the curriculum largely falls into either curriculum design or curriculum delivery. It is important that you find what is relevant for you and your context. Input on curriculum design Examples include using an employer: as a representative on the programme design team, to provide advice on potential content, to suggest how a programme might be delivered, to make recommendations about assessment of the programme. Input to curriculum delivery In the delivery of a course or a programme, employers can: deliver guest lectures, offer students projects, placements or case studies, support the assessment of assignments, projects, or placements, host a workplace visit. Consider a Careers or Industry Advisory Board Hosting regular meetings with relevant employers can help inform course and programme organisers about the current trends in related work sectors. If possible use a range of organisations and sectors Getting inputs from multiple sectors and organisations helps provide a more representative view. For courses or programmes with no obvious links to a specific industry sector, you might want to consult a range of organisations including larger companies who recruit from any discipline. Identifying relevant employers Use professional services within the University Colleagues in the Careers Service and Edinburgh Innovations have a large database of warm contacts who are keen to work more closely with the University. Edinburgh Local may also be able to offer relevant local connections. Use alumni Keeping in contact with, or reaching out to, engaged graduates can be an excellent way of finding relevant employers. You can find alumni from your School and approach them directly via Platform One, the University’s online community platform. The Development & Alumni Office may also be able to offer relevant connections and contacts. Platform One Use your own networks Make use of your own and colleagues’ contacts that have been built through research and other areas of life. Examples of practice in the University of Edinburgh There is diverse practice across the University that can be used to stimulate thinking about what is possible in your setting. Below is a link to a range of relevant practice from the Teaching Matters blog. The examples come from multiple parts of the student experience and relate either partially or substantially to this element. New articles are automatically added so check back in the future to discover some of the latest practice. Teaching Matters: relevant articles Further reading and external perspectives The references below provide some background on this element as well as some of the external drivers and motivations for including it. Overview These references highlight how industry and government are keen to facilitate more active engagement between employers and higher education. By using employers, the curriculum can be shaped to prepare students for life after graduation as well as foster relevant skills. Moreover, having employers or alumni help shape the curriculum or provide placements or guest lectures can broaden a student’s network as well as develop valuable skills and attributes. Further reading Reference Description Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (2014). Employer Engagement: Emerging Practice from QAA Reviews. The review highlights a range of approaches to, reasons for, and benefits from having employers input into the curriculum. It explicitly highlights a clear rationale for employer engagement identified in previous work: ‘Employer engagement is an area of increasing importance to the strategic development of higher education institutions. The skills required of the future workforce and the predicted demographic changes are encouraging institutions to become more flexible in the types of learner they recruit, the range of learning opportunities they make available and the modes of study they offer.’ (p.2). QAA Scotland (2010). Making it Work – A Guidebook Exploring Work-Based Learning. This resource goes through some practicalities of implementing work-based learning, as well as setting the context and drivers for including employers more explicitly into the curriculum. The report highlights the political situation started in 2007, namely that the economy needs a highly-skilled workforce to be able to compete globally. This has led to policy changes that highlight the importance of creating graduates who are highly skilled and capable to step into the workforce. One identified way of delivering on this is including employers in the curriculum, either to support design, to provide placements, or to create more work-based learning opportunities. Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (2009). Higher Ambitions: The Future of Universities in a Knowledge Economy. The strategic proposal set out in this document highlights the benefit to the economy of building strong links between universities and industry. It also highlights the importance of ensuring that universities and industry actively collaborate so that higher education providers help build a sustainable economy, including having employers support and design programmes and skills development opportunities. This is seen as building students’ overall employability and supporting universities’ active engagement with, and contributions to, the local community. QAA (2018). Quality Code for Higher Education: advice and guidance on course design and development. Guiding Principle 4 suggests feedback from internal and external stakeholders is used to inform course content QAA (2018). Quality Code for Higher Education: advice and guidance on external expertise. This provides practical guidance on the use of external, impartial and independent expertise to ensure that the standards and quality of a provider's courses are consistent with the relevant national qualification frameworks, Subject Benchmark Statements, Characteristics Statements and any relevant professional or other requirements.