A new initiative called the Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR) which will record student’s non-academic activities for potential employers looks set to come to UEA next year.
Trialled in over ninety UK universities, the HEAR aims to remove the ‘obsession’ of the current degree classification scheme and create a smoother selection process for employers. The reports will be available electronically and will contain detailed information on both the students’ academic and non-academic achievements during their studies.
The HEAR will act as a supplement to the degree certificate and will record:
- all academic achievements
- detailed course contents
- year by year breakdown of module marks
- involvment in clubs and societies
- any volunteer work undertaken
Director of Planning at UEA Ian Callaghan revealed that this new initiative could be rolled out across the UEA early 2013 with September 2012 entrants being the first to graduate with a HEAR. ‘We are in the process of implementing the scheme and in an ideal world we would be launching it for this year’s in-take,’ he explains. ‘We are currently looking at the impacts of doing this and how achievable it is but our aim is to introduce it after the Christmas break.’
Challenges currently being faced in setting up the scheme at UEA is how this information will be captured, how students will engage with it and how to make the HEAR fair as activities can only be recorded if they can be validated by the university.
Anne Hillary, Director of Careers Centre is working closely with the Students Union to find a way to include work involvement outside of UEA and is looking at ways to avoid discrimination against those unable to fully take part in university life. ‘We believe passionately that we need to find a system to record all non-academic activities students do. This is not a problem with anything done through the Student Union,’ she explains, ‘but our concern is that it would not record part-time work or volunteer work outside the UEA, or for example mature students with caring responsibilities, all this should be acknowledged as well.’
Student interaction on their own HEAR and how the data will be managed is also an issue. Currently students will be able to look at their Hear online and add or remove information on their non-academic work during their university lifetime but a cut-off point after graduation remains undecided.
It is stressed that the HEAR will not act as a replacement for a good CV or application form but the hope is that it will encourage students to see the value of taking part in non-academic activities and realise that it is not just their degree that may gain employment.