One of my students recently blogged about a mismatch between graduate skills and industry requirements in the gaming industry. I shook my head as I read that, although the industry is crying out for programmers, fewer than 12% of the graduates from specialist gaming degrees are employed six months following graduation. Fifty eight percent of employers in the industry say that specialist graduates have the skills necessary upon graduation (rising to 71% in larger firms). We have become a dishonest broker between incoming students and industries looking for employees. At one end, our market is made up of 18 year olds who are interested in the student experience while at the other end, our market is made up of employers who are looking for a set of skills. We make the noises that are satisfying to both ends, and end up letting everyone down.
Why not guarantee the skills of our graduates? Why not put an iron-clad guarantee on what a graduate of our department/school/institution can do, backed by our reputation (some would say we already do that) and some cold hard cash?
Let’s look at how that might work. I guarantee that a student who graduates from my degree programme with a 2i (B range average) can write at Level X, speak at Level X, manipulate numbers at Level X, engage in critical thinking at Level X, and evaluate evidence at Level X. If you are not satisfied after one year in the workplace with the quality of my graduate (barring any unforeseen circumstances), I will reimburse you the full year salary that you paid my graduate.
Different skill levels would be attached to different programme outcomes. Students could enrol on the course knowing that it would be tough, but that there would be a guaranteed job at the end, and employees could hire new graduates knowing that if they did not get what they were expecting, their money would be refunded. Intake into the programme would be determined by the number of guaranteed placements available at the end.
We could do this today — so what is stopping us?