Research Output

Towards graduate employment: exploring student identity through a university-wide employability project

  Students have expectations of their university education leading to graduate careers, with universities investing considerable resources in institution-wide initiatives designed to enhance opportunities for student work placements and work-related learning. However, there are large variations between courses and disciplines in student uptake of these opportunities, with limited evidence explaining why this might be the case. Recognising recent approaches which consider student identity in transitions, this study explored student attitudes to work-related learning across a range of subject disciplines. The first phase of the study used in-class surveys (n=199) to focus on students’ self-identification and perceptions of employability initiatives. Follow-up interviews were conducted to further explore themes emerging in the survey data. The study found that, while some students drew on resources for identity work in their recognition of and approach to work-related learning, access was limited, and university resources were not always recognised or effective. The findings have implications for the design of effective graduate employability initiatives.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    20 November 2017

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  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    LB2300 Higher Education

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    378 Higher education

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Smith, S., Smith, C., Taylor-Smith, E., & Fotheringham, J. (2017). Towards graduate employment: exploring student identity through a university-wide employability project. Journal of Further and Higher Education, (1-13). doi:10.1080/0309877x.2017.1390077. ISSN 0309-877X



employability, work-related learning, student identity, graduate identity, professional identity

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