This project focuses on the development of high level employability skills. It aims to establish collaborative postgraduate programmes which integrate employability skills and have strong input and support from employers. The programmes will be developed jointly between University of Greenwich and three Nigerian Universities. The programmes will be developed in computing and information technology, engineering management and international business, and each programme will have a strong focus on leadership and management. These areas are of particular importance to the Nigerian economy, and are areas in which the partner institutions can offer expertise and experience.
The main focus of the project is to scope the potential of different models of the delivery of postgraduate programmes in collaboration with partners. It will also trial a number of approaches to the development of such programmes.
- Split site delivery between Nigeria and UK (including e-mediated delivery, guru lectures)
- Delivery of programmes initially in-country with some UK staff input
- Intensive periods of study in the UK for Nigerian students (2-4 weeks duration)
- Offering dual awards of UK and Nigerian institutions
- Establishing partnerships with major Nigerian employers (to facilitate business focussed learning)
- Development of work placement/projects in conjunction with major employers.
Need for the Project
The project aims to address three specific current needs and demands in Nigeria.
• The first is under-capacity in the Nigerian higher education system. In two decades, the number of university students increased eight times, from about 55,000 in 1980 to more than 400,000 in 2000. Applications outnumber places by more than 3 to 1. Between 1997 and 1999 the number of academic staff declined by 12% although enrolments expanded by 13%. Staffing levels are some 40% below capacity.
• Secondly, the university curriculum is generally viewed as outdated, and not suitable to equip students with the skills required in an increasingly global environment. In order for Nigeria to compete in the global, knowledge economy, innovative pedagogy is needed which embeds employability skills, and encourages creativity and flexibility.
• Thirdly, outdated curricula have resulted in a lack of suitably skilled graduates. It is acknowledged that ‘skilled professionals are key to building improvements in the administration and technical ability which Africa gravely lacks’. (Commission for Africa Recommendation on Governance and Capacity Building). Nigerian employers find university graduates ‘poorly trained and unproductive on the job,…shortcomings are particularly severe in oral and written communication and in applied technical skills’ (Dabalen, Oni and Adekola, 2001. Labour Market Prospects for university graduates in Nigeria Higher Education Policy, 14).
Issue to Address
This project will address these issues by:
(a). Capacity building
- Training individuals with the potential to teach and research in Nigerian HEIs
- Beginning new programmes
- Trailing methods of collaborative partnership working
(b). Curriculum enhancement
- Innovating in learning and teaching
(c). Embedding employability skills
- Developing programmes that equip graduates with the skills required by employers and the economy, which have the potential to be cascaded to other HEIs within Nigeria
- Creating and growing the links between education and employers and ensuring employer involvement.
Project Rationale and Methodology
The project will develop postgraduate programmes with a strong emphasis on developing the transferable skills of students alongside the knowledge-based and technical skills on which most programmes currently focus. This will be achieved in a number of ways, including:
- Introduction of more innovative pedagogy designed to stretch students’ learning and enable them to develop critical and questioning approaches to higher-level learning
- Close involvement of employers in programme development, change and delivery, including use of live case studies, guru lectures and consultancy modules
- Work placements and internships as an integral part of programmes
- Assessment designed to develop the innovative, creative and problem-solving skills of students.
The partners have a shared understanding of employability and entrepreneurship and recognise the importance of the embedding of such skills within programmes of study. All partners have strong industry links and have developed programmes which include joint project work with industry. The project will include such linkages as an integral part of programmes, rather than a ‘bolt on’ activity.
The project will act as a catalyst to new developments, and will have benefits in both countries. All the partners will benefit from sharing ideas and effective practice and from the opportunity to strengthen knowledge and understanding of global issues.
The UK partners will gain an enhanced understanding of the needs of the Nigerian economy which will impact on programme design and internationalisation agendas.
For Nigerian HEIs, the project will encourage and inform the development of new programmes and curriculum approaches, particularly with regards to the place of employability and entrepreneurship skills in the design and delivery of curricula. The project will develop a framework and approval capable of adoption and adaptation in other curriculum areas, and in other institutions. It will also provide an avenue for developing a future HE workforce.
The impact of the project for various beneficiaries is summarised in the Table below:
|Local and national economy
||Contribution to wealth creation at the local and national level. Developing the potential HE workforce of the future
|National HE systems
||Access to guidance and materials on creating postgraduate collaborative partnerships
||Access to pool of high calibre, innovative students with both technical and business specialist knowledge and skills
||Benefit from world-class postgraduate education, which will enhance their employability and career prospects
||Improvement in the quality of both teaching and research. Enhanced understanding of the global context of their work and of the place of, and integration of employability in the curriculum
|Individual partners and faculties
||Contribution to building and maintaining an active community of scholars. Broadening knowledge and understanding of delivering employability in different contexts