Case Study 6 - Innovation in Modules to Increase Business and Community Engagement

Davis, Katherine

Impact Summary

Engagement with business employers in our community led to their involvement in the design of our modules and subsequent impact on student employability evidenced by graduate employment figures. The specific knowledge and skills gained from these modules have helped our students to overcome other barriers that they might have, e.g. being a member of the BAME group or lack of work-related experience. Co-designing modules with employers has enhanced understanding of their needs and values that has influenced the design of all modules in business degrees. Ensuring that feedback processes were in place for students and employers led to continual refinement and improvement. Inclusion of professional qualifications within the module was made possible through my community connections. Development of work experience modules to include options without the need to attend an external workplace has been invaluable during COVID-19. A comparison of graduate employment between traditional work placement experience and completing work-based projects internally showed no significant difference to future employment. Dissemination of this approach through presentations to colleagues and my ability to connect them with appropriate employers has acknowledged my sustained leadership in module design. I am an Honorary Professor for a private university specialising in this field.

Key Achievements

  1. Engagement of the local and global business communities
  2. Enhanced the skills and knowledge base of current and future workforces
  3. Multiple options given to students to acquire work-based skills
  4. Sustained improvement in student employability, the majority are from BAME groups
  5. A flexible approach to module design has enabled rapid adaptation to online delivery
  6. The employer forum I set up (comprising of organisations of differing size that I have sourced from my contacts) is well supported and provides guest lecturers, case studies and real life projects from industry to multiple modules

Key Aims

The purpose of this work was to design modules that were relevant to the modern business community which would significantly influence student employability in an increasingly competitive job market. This fitted with the general strategic direction of Kingston University to become a significant contributor to the local community. Creating modules that were relevant to student aspiration encouraged recruitment, retention and achievement, developed their confidence and ultimately would lead to a more efficient, knowledge-based workforce. An open approach to achieving module outcomes has enabled their use in global business communities.


My approach was to inspire employers to contribute to the academic goals of their future workforce. Through the forum, which I set up, it became clear that there was a general dissatisfaction with the skills and knowledge base of the modern graduate which entailed long training programmes and were expensive. My enthusiasm to change and incorporate their ideas into modules led to codesigning and creating modules. Offering them an opportunity to contribute to the delivery and assessment of modules through supportive mentorship was a positive step and led to our mutual professional development. By listening to their views and acknowledging their skills to provide meaningful work placements and projects I have led the development of strong business links in the local and wider business community to deliver socially inclusive projects.

Key Outcomes

The main outcome was the production of the BH5004 Consultancy in Practice module that had specific employer involvement and are a major part of five degrees: • Accounting & Finance with Business Experience BSc (Hons) • Business Management with Business Experience BSc (Hons) • International Business with Business Experience BSc (Hons) • Marketing & Advertising with Business Experience BSc (Hons) • Real Estate Management with Business Experience BSc (Hons) Achievement of these modules gave our students a competitive edge when applying for jobs since they could show that they had applied academic knowledge in real work situations. Close involvement with business communities meant that academic knowledge could be illustrated by ‘real’ examples and extended their relevance to commercial organisations who were keen to develop their workforce. An example being an agreement with the Saudi Arabian Government to develop monthly executive education short courses in project and change management that is expected to bring an income of c. £90k per annum for the University. Student and employer satisfaction surveys were excellent. A successful model for creating modules and the associated teaching, learning and assessment by business professionals was created. First example of work placement module run remotely with 15 external clients (BH5004, 2019). My expertise in this field was recognised by a private university for whom I am now an Honorary Professor. This led to my development of a course that engaged international companies operating in global environments. The goal was to create a better skilled and knowledge-based workforce that could operate more effectively in a multicultural society. The modules were designed to their brief, delivered externally and were so successful that the contract was extended.

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