University of East London

The purpose of this paper is to examine on the University of East London (UEL) students perspective towards the future of university education and their reason for such. The two methods that had been used to carry out this study are focus group and survey questionnaire. The controlled variable for this study are the amount of students from the School of Business & Marketing, School of Engineering and School of Computing & IT from UEL which the survey was given to. Besides, the second part of this paper demonstrates a personal development plan with curriculum vitae.

The roots of university education can be traced back thousands of years in many different cultures. Despite this long history and apparent resilience of form, however, modern universities are increasingly finding themselves beset with threats to their autonomy, their curricula, their funding and even to their very existence. The function of the university is being questioned, as institutions are challenged to deliver their missions in the face of increasing competition and demands from governments and regulatory bodies for transparency and accountability. Over twenty years ago, Knapper (1983, p.13) believed that the future of the university was “a topic of debate for theorists, politicians, employers and parents for many years”. This research is carried out to the answer the question on “What do UEL student think about the future university education and why?”

As alternative providers of knowledge and learning are moving into what was once the sole domain of the university, universities are progressively having to think and act now “to ensure a place in the increasingly crowded market for learning which is likely to exist in 2025″ (Cormack 1999, p.127). By approaching this process from a future perspective, institutions can integrate futures approaches into their strategy development processes, and thus build more robust strategy through innovation and far-sightedness (University Futures, 2007a).

According to Arthur (1989), university education is defined as teaching, research and social services activities, and it includes both the undergraduate level which can be referred to as tertiary education and the graduate or postgraduate level.Despite the increasing pressure on universities to ensure that graduate employability forms part of their learning strategy, a review of the current literature indicates that there is much confusion over what career is and the best way of helping students develop their future career by developing several skills (Harvey et al., 2004).

Career is defined as a ‘sequence of life experiences over time’ (Arthur, 1989). Traditional definitions restricted career to a professional work life which included advancement, and several researchers proposed the broadening of this conceptual definition. Where else, Super (1976, p.20) proposed career as the sequence of major positions occupied by a person throughout this pre-occupational, occupational, and post-occupational life which includes work related roles such as those of student, employee, and pensioner, together with complementary vocational, familial and civil roles”.

Until recently, having a career have been seen in a narrow way either as a simplistic skills issue, hence the preoccupation with outputs such as key or generic skills by policy makers, or the preoccupation with performance metrics such as first-destination returns (Holmes, 2001). But what are the skills graduates are expected to develop as part of their degree?

Skills can be described as an ability and capacity acquired through deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to smoothly and adaptively carryout complex activities or job functions involving cognitive skills, technical skills, and interpersonal skills (Hawkins, 1999). Gibb (2005) defines a number of skills, attributes and behaviours associated with entrepreneurial or enterprisingactivities, as indicated in Table 1.

Yet there are different views on what career is and also what skills are involved. Some definitions focus on the process of matching knowledge and understanding of self, with opportunities in the labour market (Hawkins, 1999), while others reflect a much broader arena encompassing work-place effectiveness (Hustler et al., 1998). In the debate about developing skills in career, we must not lose sight of the fact that the notion of a career is a highly subjective concept; the product of an individual’s self-view of the world (Arnold, 1977).

Methodology is the theory of how a research should be undertaken (Saunders et al., 2007). In order to reduce bias, methodological triangulation was used. By using more than one data collection for competence of research findings, it enhanced the validity of the result (Hilton, n.d.). In this research, two methods are being used which consists of quantitative approach that is used in the form of self-administered survey and qualitative data approach which is seen in the conducting of focus group, to obtain more data for each investigative.

3.1 Data Collection Method The data collection method that used is primary data which consists of survey questionnaires and focus group interviews (Kelly, 2001). 3.1.1 Quantitative Research According to Roberts (2010), quantitative data that deals with the numbers and can be measured enable the researcher to explain what is being observed. In this research, the quantitative method that used is the questionnaires. The reasons why questionnaires are chosen are because questionnaires are more objective and can be gathered in a standardised manner (Milne, 1999).

3.1.1.1 Survey Questionnaire In this research, the data collected were mainly primary data. Survey questionnaire been chosen as one of the data collection because it works as an efficient way of collecting responses from a large sample prior to quantitative analysis (Saunders et al., 2007). For this small scale research, there were 30 respondents randomly chosen amongst the populations to undertake questionnaire. 30 of the questionnaire were given to 10 students from School of Business ; Marketing, 10 to students from School of Engineering and 10 were distributed to students from School of Computer ; IT. The non-proportional quota sampling had been used in this research by reason of it is the most suitable one. The results were from findings were tabularised and demonstrated by using Microsoft Excel worksheet. Nevertheless, the disadvantages of using this method are the possibility of low response rates and inability to probe responses.

3.1.2 Qualitative Research Qualitative data that deals with words and descriptions is data can be observed but not measured (Kitzinger, 1995). The qualitative method that used for this research is the focus group. 3.1.2.1 Focus Group Focus group is composed of a small number of respondents and facilitated by a ‘moderator’. It is able to establish the credibility of a research and attempt to overcome the issues of bias (Saunders et al., 2007). Conducting a focus group research was decided as qualitative data approach for this study upon because it able to provide a relatively large amount of information in a short period of time. There were 5 UEL students chosen as the sample for this focus group interview. The main idea of focus group interview is to draw upon the respondents’ attitudes, behaviours, opinions, and reactions behind the decisions made.

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