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Universities charged with delivering basic skills to undergraduates

Published: Tuesday, 03 April 2012   Category: All Graduate Jobs News | All Graduate job news

Although students should have mastered skills in reading, writing and arithmetic by the time they embark on their degree courses, it appears that there is still a basic skills shortage among the undergraduate population.

This is according to research by the Cambridge Assessment exam board, which revealed that six-in-10 professors are providing “additional support classes” to students in their first year who arrive at university poorly equipped to meet the academic demands of their degree courses.

It seems that undergraduates have had little exposure to essay writing structures and the correct use of grammar, and universities are redressing this shortfall by offering catch up classes in writing skills. These are particularly aimed at English undergraduates.

Higher Education institutions are also offering booster classes in basic numeracy and independent study skills.

The study follows criticism from teaching professionals that schools simply “teach to the test” in an effort to maintain their Ofsted grade. The result is children who finish their education with gaps in their knowledge.

Mark Dawe, Chief Executive of OCR, a wing of Cambridge Assessment, said: “Over the past two decades, the design and content of qualifications has increasingly become the domain of government-funded bodies.

“One effect of this has been o disenfranchise university lecturers, tutors, and admissions staff.”

When asked why A-levels weren’t delivering the necessary skills to help students make the transition to degree level, the majority of the 633 academics surveyed cited the ‘teach to test’ mentality.

The news follows today’s announcement that Education Minister Michael Gove wants universities to set A-Level exams in place of exam boards.

In a letter to the exams regulator Ofqual, Mr Gove said: "It is more important that universities are satisfied that A-levels enable young people to start their undergraduate degrees having gained the right knowledge and skills, than that ministers are able to influence content or methods of assessment," wrote Mr Gove.

"I am particularly keen that universities should be able to determine subject content, and that they should endorse specifications, including details of how the subject should be assessed."

Will the new A-Level system mean you are more equipped for your first graduate job?


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