Universities beginning to incorporate professional accreditation into traditional degrees
The emergence of an increasingly competitive marketplace for degrees has led to some universities seeking to gain the edge on their competitors to incorporate professional accreditation into more traditional courses.
The threefold increase in fees this year for home students, combined with the increasingly saturated graduate jobs market, has shifted the onus on recruitment towards universities offering attractive courses rather than students attempting to gain places at an institution of higher education.
While some universities rely on their reputation or generous bursaries for high-achievers to attract prospective applicants, others have forged links with employers to provide the attractive prospect of gaining a foothold in the professional jobs market through industry contacts and accreditation.
Institutions such as Southampton Solent Business School and Coventry University are planning to launch courses incorporating qualifications from the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
Such courses will give students added value and an immediate advantage by providing vocational qualifications relevant to their sector, alongside the status of a traditional university honours degree.
As professional qualifications within the course are frequently delivered by tutors practising in the industry, the hybrid courses give students the added bonus of crucial networking opportunities.
Although Durham University itself does not offer professional accreditation as part of its more traditional courses, aside from Law, it has begun to recognise the trend by incorporating it into some of the more vocational courses in its portfolio.
Durham’s BA in Marketing, for example, offers accreditation from the European Quality Improvement Service (EQUIS) and its BA in Business and Finance is recognised by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.
Ann Brine, a chartered marketer and visiting fellow at Southampton Solent Business School, summarised her opinion on this growing trend and its implications: “professional bodies are ideally placed to assist higher education institutions looking for a structured, manageable and streamlined way to offer their prospective students a competitive advantage…There can no longer be a neat divide between the worlds of business and education, and the higher education profession needs to continue to embrace this change”.