University of Derby Corporate: A Higher Education Response to the UK’s Employer Engagement Agenda

By David Arthur Young, Fiona Church and Dawn Whitemore.

Published by Journal of the World Universities Forum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper analyses and critiques the establishment and initial operation of University of Derby Corporate (UDC) in 2008 and 2009. UDC is based on demonstrated institutional strengths and a track record of success in connecting university-level learning with the world of work. Aimed at learners within in the workplace, UDC was set up to create an attractive delivery mechanism to persuade more employers to enter into partnerships with the university.
Within such partnerships, work and professional practice is the starting point for curriculum design. Programmes enable learners to articulate and transform their tacit professional understandings into planned and explicit outcomes which can be tested against criteria for certification. Essentially, this involves learners analysing, critiquing and extending their work-based knowledge and locating it within higher education achievement conventions.

UDC is a practical response to enable the university to connect with modes and sites of higher level learning and knowledge production outside the normal boundaries of the institution. UDC also seeks, through a robust quality regime, to establish and retain the high social status and value traditionally associated with university-level programmes. While UDC programmes provide demonstrably higher level learning, the approach is also based on demand-led and commercial thinking. The intention is, through learners’ achievements aligned with stakeholders’ objectives, to add value for both companies and the university.

Keywords: Work-Based Learning, Employer Engagement, Negotiated Learning

Journal of the World Universities Forum, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.11-22. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 602.552KB).

Prof. David Arthur Young

Professor of Work Based Learning, School of Flexible and Partnership Learning, University of Derby, Derby, Derbyshire, UK

David Young is Professor of Work Based Learning within the School of Flexible and Partnership Learning at the University of Derby. He has been engaged in the development of award-bearing work-based learning since the mid-1990s and has had significant experience in external examination, staff development and consultancy in the field in the UK and internationally. He has also presented extensively at local, regional and national conferences. He led the University of Derby team which won the Times Higher Education Award in 2006 for Most Imaginative Use of Distance Learning. He was awarded a UK National Teaching Fellowship in 2007.

Fiona Church

Dean of Faculty, Faculty of Business, Computing and Law, University of Derby, Derby, Derbyshire, UK

Fiona Church is Dean and Director of the Faculty of Business, Computing and Law at the University of Derby. She started work at the University in 1992 as a Senior Lecturer in Law. Since then, she has worked in a number of different roles at Derby – always based within the Law and Business areas - and was appointed Dean of Faculty in December 2006. Her subject expertise is in employment law and she continues to publish in this field.

Dawn Whitemore

Head of Development, University of Derby Corporate, University of Derby, Derby, Derbyshire, UK

As Head of University of Derby Corporate, Dawn Whitemore is responsible for developing and delivering commercial solutions that meet the needs of businesses. University of Derby Corporate strives to be demand-led, highly responsive, flexible, quality driven and, above all, customer facing. She has a successful track record in establishing robust quality employer engagement infrastructures within the public sector and her career has concentrated on business development, sales, marketing and the development of people. Her passion is for quality learning experiences that add value to the individual and the business.


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