Life Learning

Sunday 25 June 2017

Students must get 'all-round' education

John Walshe Education Editor

ALL arts students should have compulsory training in information and communications technology, a new report recommends.

It says that it is time to end the artificial divide between the humanities and sciences and it recommends that all students be educated in both.

The report from the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the Higher Education Authority (HEA) gives the example of Princeton University in the US where electrical engineering students cannot graduate unless they have followed a class in drama.

"Anybody can acquire skills, but the competitive edge is in creativity," the report says.

The report, entitled 'Playing to Our Strengths', argues that economic policy should focus on developing the contribution by the arts and humanities in areas like creative arts, digital content creation and tourism.

It says that there should be a clearer stress on the links between teaching and research demands. There must be an end to the practice where researchers are not obliged to teach at undergraduate level over prolonged periods of time.

Degree structures should allow for placement outside the lecture room. Such placement modules would ensure that graduates would acquire a deeper understanding of the workplace, develop a sense of how skills can be applied in a practical manner, and enhance career prospects for graduates.

In addition, graduate and undergraduate courses in the arts, humanities and social sciences should be structured in ways that enable students to take modules in any partnered institution within a strategic alliance. According to the most recent statistics, 58pc of university undergraduates and 55pc of postgraduates are in the arts, humanities and social science disciplines.

Satisfied

HEA chairman Michael Kelly said: "We've got to get our artists talking with our scientists and our engineers working with our historians and archaeologists to a much greater extent than ever before."

For the report, surveys were conducted among employers and graduates. Considerably more than half the arts, humanities and social science graduates surveyed were satisfied with their job and earnings. Satisfaction levels were highest among those holding a PhD.

Employers stressed the need for computing skills and predicted that ability in foreign languages would become more important over the next decade.

However, one thought that graduates did not understand the 'real' world while another was critical of their technical and writing skills.

Irish Independent

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