WEXHE aims to support the development of work-based learning relating to HE – internships/work placements, apprenticeships and entrepreneurship – thereby enhancing the value of higher education and supporting the transition of graduates into employment and career success.
January 2017 – December 2019
The project responds to concerns expressed by stakeholders on the shortcomings in the labour market orientation of higher education (HE), focusing on the balance between practical and theoretical learning in HE and mismatches between the skill sets of graduates and the skills they require during their early careers. EU countries have experienced a substantial increase in graduate unemployment and a decrease in quality of employment. European students and graduates report continuously that they are worried about their careers. At the same time employers and employers’ organisations report they are having increasing difficulties in finding graduates with matching skills.
In this Knowledge Alliance, Integrating Entrepreneurship and Work Experience into Higher Education (WEXHE), enterprises, associations, and HEIs come together to identify and analyse current provision of work experience in HEIs in seven different EU countries, generating 84 case studies of work-based learning (WBL) involving all four types of disciplinary sectors (hard-pure, e.g. natural sciences; soft-pure, e.g. humanities and social sciences; hard-applied, e.g. medicine; and soft-applied, e.g. social work) covering work placements, traineeships and entrepreneurships. Working with practitioners, it will create 12 replicable modules of WBL, together with guidance on management, quality assurance, learning outcomes, funding, and accreditation. These modules will cover and support the four sectors and will be tailored to national contexts. A unique feature is the attention to humanities for which the transition to the labour market is less transparent and mapped than other sectors.
The project aims to:
- increase capacity of HE staff and enterprises to provide high quality work experience and entrepreneurship,
- identify what kind of WBL leads to high quality jobs,
- support the accreditation of WBL through ECTS and effective Quality Assurance, and
- ensure that skills needs of employers are understood.
The project will review existing and support further policy development
The project consortium consists of:
- University of Groningen, The Netherlands (project coordinator)
- University of Warwick, United Kingdom
- University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
- University of Applied Sciences Münster, Germany
- NOVATEX Solutions, Ltd., Cyprus
- UIIN, The Netherlands
- Spanish Chamber of Commerce, Spain
- Polish Chamber of Commerce, Poland
- European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), Belgium
- European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE)
Within the WEXHE project, ENQA was tasked with surveying its membership in order to find out what role QA plays in WBL in HE: what criteria are used, and how are they applied and tested? The results are gathered in a report “Quality Assurance and work-based learning“.