THE MERIT OF SANDWICH DEGREES IN COMPARISON WITH POST GRADUATE CONVERSION COURSES

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1 THE MERIT OF SANDWICH DEGREES IN COMPARISON WITH POST GRADUATE CONVERSION COURSES Michael Jayne School of Art Design and Built Environment Nottingham Trent University Nottingham NG1 4BU Tele: Abstract This paper considers the relative merits of sandwich undergraduate education compared with postgraduate conversion education in order to see whether the experiential learning in a formal placement year correlates, in any way, with the differential learning requirements of a Masters degree. It includes new primary data obtained from students on the final year of their RICS accredited BSc Honours Degrees concerning how they believe their placement experience has influenced their subsequent educational experience. It comes to the conclusion that a valid placement can go some way towards meeting the requirements of a Master s degree as expressed by the Quality Assurance Agency in Higher Education generic benchmarks. Keywords: sandwich students, Masters students, role of placement year in meeting Master s generic benchmark statements

2 1. Background In the UK, a first degree is the predominant qualification route in the Built Environment sector. Recent years have seen an apparent shift towards postgraduate entry, especially conversion courses. This may have been facilitated by the Government s drive to increase participation in University education which may have resulted in increased numbers of graduates with non cognate, non vocational first degrees. Some employers, for example in the real estate sector, also appear to have been pro active in employing post graduates, particularly from RICS accredited courses. The issues raised by this paper concern the relative merits of these entry routes; are they producing distinctly different property professionals? How does a graduate from a degree without a sandwich year differ from one with a sandwich year or a Master's degree? Does the sandwich degree merely endow a student with work experience or could it be that it provides a learning experience which moves some way towards satisfying some of the added value academic qualities of a Master s qualification? 2. The Changing Nature of Higher Education UK higher education has seen many changes in recent years. This has been influenced by the Government s desire for more students to enter higher education and the increasing shift towards self funding. This has resulted in the number of UK students achieving first class or uppersecond class honours degrees increasing by 20 per cent over the six years to (Sastry 2004). Alongside the growth in first degrees there has been a substantial growth in postgraduate education, although the reasons for this growth may not be as self-evident as with undergraduate education.

3 Postgraduate education is the fastest growing sector in higher education. There has been a 21 per cent growth in new entrants over the last seven years. There are now nearly 500,000 Postgraduate students in UK universities, nearly a fifth of all students. (Sastry 2004) This growth has been dramatic and is clearly seen in table 1. The demand for Postgraduate education rose by 21% from 1995/6 to 2002/03. The growth for Professional qualifications overall was 2% but within the figures, growth for taught Master s courses generally, grew by 42%. According to Sastry, post graduate student numbers rose fastest in the new universities and colleges, being 65% for the same period covered by Table 1. One might question whether such growth is sustainable. 3. Postgraduate Student Characteristics According to Sastry, students studying for research degrees are more likely to have achieved a first-class degree than other graduates. He goes on to point out that,...those studying for taught postgraduate qualifications by contrast have a similar profile to the general graduate population and he then suggests that,...the possession of a taught postgraduate qualification is a poor indicator as to general ability... This would appear to contradict some of the stated reasons for requiring post graduate entry to the profession but table 2 would appear to support the assertion that there is something special about postgraduate students as their salaries, six months after qualification, are almost 18% higher than even those for holders of first class honours degrees. Similarly, Table 3 shows a much higher level of postgraduate students as having professional occupations. However, as Sastry (2004) points out, this may be in part due to the fact that,...postgraduate qualifications are strongly associated with entry into professional occupations - even though the proportion of postgraduates studying for specifically professional qualifications is tiny (3 per cent of entrants).

4 TABLE 1: First Year Postgraduates in UK Higher Education Institutions (2002-3) Number of students Absolute increase Percentage change to to Professional qualifications Post Grad Diplomas and certificates (not PGCE) PGCE Taught Masters Masters by research Doctorate by research All Other Post Grad TP PT(a) Total (a) TP 1 PT This category includes postgraduate bachelor s degrees (e.g. BLitt) and doctorates not mainly examined by research. (Source: reanalysis of data commissioned by HEPI for HESA in Sastry 2004.) TABLE 2: Earning Prospects Mean salary of those in full-time Postgraduate premium (%) employment six months after graduation Postgraduate qualifiers All first degrees First class honours Upper second Lower second Third class honours Unclassified PT (Source: reanalysis of data commissioned by HEPI for HESA in Sastry 2004.) TABLE 3: Professional Employment: Postgraduate and First Degree Qualifiers Obtaining Employment Six Months After Graduation All occupations Professional occupations (percentage of all occupations in brackets) Postgraduate (76) First degree (25) Postgraduate (excl teacher training) (51) First degree (excl teacher training) (20) (Source: Sastry 2004)

5 In , 25 per cent of first degree graduates in employment six months after graduation were classified as being in professional occupations. The equivalent figure for postgraduates was 76 per cent....even if undergraduate and postgraduate teacher training are removed from the analysis, the contrast between postgraduate and first degree qualifiers is still striking. (Sastry 2004) 4. Future Demand HEPI has calculated, based upon growth in undergraduate demand expected between and in England, that there could be up to 50,000 more postgraduate students in higher education by that date. (Sastry 2004) Furthermore, as Sastry points out, postgraduate qualification may become the norm in occupations where this has not previously been the case, even where no formal professional accreditation is involved. This would support an assertion that demand for postgraduate education will increase. The counter view is that because of the delay between graduating and entering postgraduate education, there may be some time before the full impact of increases in the undergraduate population on the postgraduate population is felt. (Sastry 2004). However, due to the increased levels of student debt it is possible that new graduates will not be willing to proceed to further post graduate study. 5. Undergraduate Sandwich Degree Education versus Post Graduate Education Against the background of increasing demand by employers for post graduate students and graduates for post graduate courses, it seems worthwhile to consider the qualities of the established sandwich degree. Table 4 sets out the traditional learning routes for standard full time, sandwich and non cognate Master s routes to qualification. In standard full time and post graduate degrees, work experience is normally encountered after graduation only. With the part time postgraduate route work experience may be attained during the learning process. This is also true for part time undergraduate courses. However, with the traditional (often referred to as a thick ) sandwich route, work experience is usually encountered after two years of full time study and before the final year. This would normally be expected to enable the student to use, and to develop a greater appreciation of, the skills acquired during their two years of full time

6 TABLE 4: Current Undergraduate and Postgraduate Programme Formats Year Standard Full time Degree Activity 1 Level 1 Graduate learning 2 Level 2 3 Level 3 4 APC year 1 Work experience 5 APC year 2 Year Standard Sandwich Degree Activity 1 Level 1 Graduate learning 2 Level 2 3 Placement APC year 1 (work experience) 4 Level 3** Graduate learning 5 APC year 1 Work experience ** Placement (work) experience taken before final year of taught education Year Non Cognate Masters Full time Activity 1 Level 1 Graduate learning 2 Level 2 3 Level 3 4 Masters** Post graduate learning 5 APC year 1 Work experience 6 APC year 2 ** Placement (work) experience taken as a totality after final year of taught education Year Non Cognate Masters Part time Activity 1 Level 1 Graduate learning 2 Level 2 3 Level 3 4 Masters year 1 Post graduate 5 Masters year 2** APC year 1 learning Work experience 6 APC year 2 Work experience ** Placement (work) experience taken during final years of taught education

7 study, to some extent. Similarly, a placement year would be expected to inform the final year of study, in the sense that students would have a contextual reference point and a collective anecdotal experience shared within the cohort. It could also be the case that traditional sandwich course education recognises a need to lift a student s competence to a point where they can be useful to employers after 2 years study, whereas no such pressures exist for full time courses. Allen and Williams (2005) were of the opinion that, Higher education institutions who successfully engage with industry potentially offer students the opportunity to be both more knowledgeable and better prepared when they enter the workplace and in the process deliver productivity benefits to their employers. However, the placement learning experience should be more than simply work experience in that it should be structured in some form, even if that form is simply based around the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) and assessed as being valid by the employer and the University placement visitor. The APC offers a work experience related set of targets, for students and employers. It is also a motivator for employers to use students effectively and it can thus be regarded as a form of quality assurance for the learning experience. The fact that placements should be more than student work experience is supported by the QAA (2001), who state that, Where placement learning is an intended part of a programme of study, institutions should ensure that: Their responsibilities for placement learning are clearly defined; The Intended learning outcomes contribute to the overall aims of the programme; and Any assessment of placement learning is part of a coherent assessment strategy 6. Learning Outcomes In the UK, the differential generic learning outcomes as and between an honours degree and a Master s degree have been established by The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. These are set out in Table 5 alongside each other. Their relative order has been changed to

8 facilitate comparison. Particular aspects have been highlighted where there is an apparent difference in anticipated outcome. QAA also publish benchmark statements for Building and Surveying, but there do not appear to be any comparable sector specific master s benchmark statement. Consequently, the subject specific benchmark statements for Business and Management were considered as the most appropriate proxy for comparison, although there appropriateness is debatable. An analysis of these showed that, as would be expected, the degree subject benchmark statements are very subject specific. By comparison, the Business Management benchmark statements appear to be more generic in style, although this could be an attribute of the nature of business education. Notwithstanding this, the benchmark statements suggest that postgraduate education can be considered as a development in the depth and nature of knowledge acquisition skills, rather than subject breadth. This reflects the generic benchmark statements which tend to highlight the higher intellectual skill and which can easily be tracked back to the generic skills. In the absence of subject specific benchmark statements, the generic statements in Table 5 have been used as a metric to examine whether the sandwich degree performs a function in educating students above and beyond the normal graduate benchmarks towards attaining Master s benchmark standard. 7. Research In order to find out how effective, if at all, the placement learning experience had been in enhancing undergraduate education, towards postgraduate education, sandwich students on the final year of their honours degree in Real Estate Management, Building Surveying and Planning and Property Development were invited to complete an on-line questionnaire. In order to ascertain how their placement year had affected their subsequent educational experience, they were presented with a series of statements and asked to rank how strongly they agreed with them using a five point Likert scale.

9 TABLE 5: Undergraduate and Postgraduate Descriptors Descriptor for a qualification at Honours Masters Honours degrees are awarded to students who have demonstrated: Masters degrees are awarded to students who have demonstrated: A A systematic understanding of key aspects of their field of study, including acquisition of coherent and detailed knowledge, at least some of which is at or informed by, the A systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study, or area of professional practice; forefront of defined aspects of a discipline; B an ability to deploy accurately established techniques of analysis and enquiry within a discipline; a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship; C conceptual understanding that enables the student: " to devise and sustain arguments, and/or to solve problems, using ideas and techniques, some of which are at the forefront of a discipline; and " to describe and comment upon particular aspects of current research, or equivalent advanced scholarship, in conceptual understanding that enables the student: " to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline; and " to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses the discipline; D The ability to manage their own learning and to make use of scholarly reviews and primary sources (e.g. originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and refereed research articles and/or original enquiry are used to create and interpret materials appropriate to the discipline). knowledge in the discipline Typically, holders of the qualification Typically, holders of the qualification will be

10 E F G H will be able to: apply the methods and techniques that they have learned to review, consolidate, extend and apply their knowledge and understanding, and to initiate and carry out projects; critically evaluate arguments, assumptions, abstract concepts and data (that may be incomplete), to make judgements, and to frame appropriate questions to achieve a solution - or identify a range of solutions - to a problem; communicate information, ideas, problems, and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist audiences and will have: the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring: " the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility; " decision-making in complex and unpredictable contexts; and The learning ability needed to undertake appropriate further training of a professional or equivalent nature. able to: deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and nonspecialist audiences demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level; continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level; and will have: the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring: " the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility; " decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations; and The independent learning ability required for continuing professional development. The statements were derived from Master's subject benchmark statements where they had been identified as differentiating themselves above and beyond the degree standards, as highlighted in bold in table 5. The aspects covered in this highlighted area were broken down into smaller statements that were believed to express the same sentiment, but were easier for students to

11 understand than the original phraseology. For example, "Deal with complex issue both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data and communicate... conclusions clearly to specialist and non specialist audiences, was broken down into several individual statements: "I did not always have the data I needed, but I was still able to make a judgment" and "I communicated my conclusions to other professionals/specialists/public/non professionals. Students were then ed a link to an on-line questionnaire at the start of their Easter break. The on-line facility was anonymous in use and efficient. It is the author's experience that on-line questionnaires can result in a poor response rate, especially where the respondent is anonymous. However, it was believed that as the respondents were students, they might be expected to be interested in responding. Consequently, an on-line questionnaire would have some degree of success. The timing of the request was deliberate as it would mean that students had largely completed their final year studies and so should be able to have a more holistic and considered view of their learning experiences. They were also engaged in writing up their dissertations and so should be better able to respond to the statements on research. Unfortunately, one disadvantage was that Easter provided the distractions of a holiday, absence from the student's university , pressures to complete outstanding coursework and the need to complete and write up their dissertations for the first day back after the break. ing when the students had just returned from Easter was considered, as it might have produced a better response rate, but this would have made it difficult to meet the submission deadline for this conference. In the event, thirty six completed questionnaires were returned and subsequently analysed. As mentioned, questions were primarily based on the differential learning aspects between the benchmark statements of the degree versus Master s benchmark statements, discussed earlier in this paper. Students were asked to assess how strongly they agreed with a statement linked to one of the Master s benchmark statements, using a 5 point Likert scale (1 strongly agree, 5 strongly disagree). The questions were set within the following sections to help place them into context for the student: About your placement

12 How you feel about the placement How you think the placement has influenced you Things you had to do in your placement, and Things you learned on your placement. This placed the questions in a logical order to aid the students in their responses but it did not reflect the order of the aspects as set out in Table 5. Consequently, the responses had to be later reclassified into the eight sections, A to H, after the categories identified in Table Results The results were analysed in terms of mean and standard deviation to determine the strength of agreement with each statement. The mean was used to assess the strength of agreement with the statement and the standard deviation to assess the coherence/divergence of that agreement within the sample. The first section was entitled, about your Placement and how you feel about the placement. This section was designed to draw respondents into, and familiarise them with, the questionnaire. Questions covered a range of issues from whether the student enjoyed their placement to whether they thought the placement would help them get a job. While most of these individual aspects are not relevant for analysis in terms of the main purpose of this paper, it is worth reporting there was very strong support from students for the fact that placements were enjoyable and helped with obtaining employment. Students were also asked whether the placement had helped them get more from their final year studies. This produced a mean of and a standard deviation of 1.132, evidencing support for this statement. SECTION A: knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study, or area of professional practice Three statements were devised to test this section. Question 8 asked whether the placement had helped the student to be more aware of current professional problems. This produced a mean of

13 2.22 suggesting some support and a standard deviation of 1.070, suggesting broad agreement across the students. Question 9 asked whether the placement had helped the student to be more critically aware of current professional problems. This was less strongly, but still supported by a mean of and a standard deviation of Question 36 asked whether students had learned to become more questioning and critical. A mean and a standard deviation suggested that they had learned how to find out information themselves. SECTION B: a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship; Question 10 sought to find whether the placement had helped students gain a more comprehensive understanding of their subject than they would have done without it. This was strongly supported (mean ) with modest divergence of views (standard deviation ) SECTION C: to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline; And to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses It was difficult to devise suitable statements to check support for these aspects, however, question 11, which was primarily devised for section D was of some use. This asked whether the placement had helped them to be more critical about current research. It was supported with a mean of and a standard deviation of SECTION D: originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline Five questions covered this section. Questions 11 to 15 addressed the ability of the placement to inform a more developed critical understanding of research. This question can be considered valid as, at the time of asking, students should have been writing up their final year dissertations. The question asked was whether the placement had helped them to be more critical about current research. This produced one of the least strongly supported answers, but even so, the assertion was supported, mean of and a standard deviation of Question 12: "I would not have chosen my dissertation topic if I had not been on my placement" produce limited support, mean

14 of 2.75 and a standard deviation of Question 13 asked whether the placement had helped them to evaluate the research methodology for their dissertation. It is extremely unlikely that students would have had any specific instruction in this respect but their general critical awareness may have improved. This statement was the one of two statements not supported by students with a mean of and reasonably strong agreement with a standard deviation of Question 14 was the other statement not supported. Students were asked whether their placement had helped them to be more critical of the research methodology for their dissertation. This produced a mean of and a standard deviation of This would suggest that though there is not strong support, neither is there strong disagreement, suggesting that, perhaps, some critical awareness of research methodologies may have developed. Together, the general lack of support for these questions would suggest that students took the exercise seriously and that the questionnaire process produced answers with some validity. Question 15 was the last to deal with research. It asked whether the placement had helped them understand how research helps the profession to develop, better than they would have done without the placement. This was supported with a mean of 2.65 and a standard deviation of 1.01 SECTION E: deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences Seven questions were devised to check this section. Question 19 asked whether they had to deal with complex issues. This was supported with a mean of 2 and a standard deviation of Question 20 addressed issues of judgement, "I did not always have all the data I needed but was still able to make a judgement". This was supported; mean 2.056, standard deviation Questions 21 to 23 asked whether students had to communicate their conclusions to other parties. These were all supported; property professionals/specialists mean 1.89 standard deviation other professionals/specialists mean standard deviation public/non professionals mean 2.514, standard deviation Question 28 showed that the ability to talk to people in

15 business had improved, mean standard deviation Question 37 examined whether the student thought the placement had helped them learn how to find out information for themselves. Mean 1.694, standard deviation This question also helps inform Section F. SECTION F: demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level; Seven questions were also devised to check this section. Question 16 asked whether the placement had helped the student gain confidence in their self, strongly supported with a mean of 1.57 and strong agreement at standard deviation Question 24 asked whether students had to tackle and solve problems on their own. They reported they did; mean and standard deviation Question 25 found out that they also had to plan and implement tasks, mean 1.64, standard deviation Question 29 explored whether they felt that their ability to solve problems had improved, which was supported; mean 1.861, standard deviation Question 32 explored whether the ability to work on their own had improved, which was again supported; mean 1.89, standard deviation Question 33 explored whether they felt they became more independent, again strongly supported; mean 1.89, standard deviation This question also helps with section H. Question 35 reported that they had gained in self reliance Mean 2.134, standard deviation Question 37 examined whether the student thought the placement had helped them learn how to find out information for themselves, mean1.694, standard deviation This question also helped inform Section E. SECTION G: continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level; Only one question was devised to test this area. Question 18 asked whether the placement had helped the student to understand the need to keep on learning after graduation. This was again strongly supported, mean , standard deviation SECTION H: " decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations; and the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development. Five questions were devised to test this section. According to answers to Question 26, decisions were made in unpredictable situations, mean and standard deviation Students also

16 reported that they had developed their ability to learn on their own, Question 27, with a mean of , standard deviation Question 30 explored whether the ability to learn on their own improved with their placement, which it had; mean 2 standard deviation Question 31 explored their ability to manage their own learning had improved, which it also had again, mean and standard deviation Question 33 explored whether they felt they became more independent, which was again strongly supported; mean 1.89, standard deviation Miscellaneous Three questions were added which did not explicitly relate to the benchmark statements, but which did test commonly held assertions about the value of the placement experience. Question 5 sought to find whether the placement had helped students get more out of their final year studies. This was again supported, although not as strongly as might have been anticipated, considering it is a commonly held view among academics, mean 2.114, standard deviation Question 10 similarly sought to find whether the placement had helped them better understand the subject, another commonly held view. It had, with a mean of and a standard deviation of Lastly, Question 17 found out that the fact that students were advising people rather than just offering advice on buildings had helped them to be more interested in clients as people, mean 1.828, standard deviation Conclusions On the basis of the forgoing results, it would seem that there is strong support from student experience that a properly constructed placement goes some way to meeting the differential requirements of a Master s degree. In this way it is performing a genuine academic function and is definitely more than simply work experience. To examine this further, the means for the statements in each section have been tabulated and their mean calculated. This clearly shows that many of the Master s benchmark statements are strongly supported by the student experience.

17 SECTION A: knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study, or area of professional practice Mean Standard deviation Mean of means SECTION B: a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship; Mean Standard deviation SECTION C: to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline; And to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses Mean Standard deviation SECTION D: originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline Mean Standard deviation Mean of means 2.940

18 SECTION E: deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences Mean Standard deviation Mean of means SECTION F: demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level. Mean Standard deviation Mean of means SECTION G: continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level;

19 Mean Standard deviation SECTION H: " decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations; and the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development. Mean Standard deviation Mean of means When the mean of means derived from this analysis is ranked, the relative strengths of agreement can be seen in Table 6. All aspects show some support, although Section D is the weakest. This is probably where most academics would expect intellectual development in the post graduate arena and one which has been a traditional landmark of the British Doctorate. It might also be surprising if students, who have not yet graduated, would even know if they were being original. Section C was the next least supported, but these figures may be skewed by the fact that some of the Planning and Property Development students in the sample would not have been undertaking a dissertation as part of their final year. A facility had been included on the on-line questionnaire to report which programme pathway the students was studying. Unfortunately, when the questionnaire went live it did not work according to plan. If there were an error, it would probably be that the strength of agreement reported would be understated, rather than overstated. The implications are that the sandwich students on these courses are engaged in and obtaining an enhanced learning experience above and beyond that of work experience. This experience is helping them in the attainment of some of the intellectual attributes more normally associated with post graduates from Masters courses. Perhaps this should be recognized by courses.

20 TABLE 6: Rank order correlation of student sandwich experience with master s subject benchmark statements Rank Order Section Section Mean 1 F demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level. 2 G continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level; 3 E deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences 4 B a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship; 5 H decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations; and the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development. 6 A knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study, or area of professional practice 7 C to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline; And " to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses 8 D originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline 2.940

21 Sandwich courses may even warrant their own benchmark statements, above and beyond those of simply a Certificate or Diploma in Professional Practice. Given the fact that students are paying an increased contribution towards their degree and employers are increasingly looking for post graduate qualities, these are probably important issues. 10. Limitations Some of the limitations have already been explored. The main limitation is almost certainly the fact that student s opinions were requested. An alternative approach might be to test, non sandwich, sandwich and Master s students for evidence of the aspects, covered in the questionnaire, by some form of examination. The cynical would say this is already done by the fact that students are awarded a Masters or Honours degree but that would be to miss an important point as the current benchmark statements do not require the aspects, highlighted in Table 5, to be assessed. Consequently their attainment may be being overlooked.

22 11. References Allen S, Williams A, 2005, Developing a framework to evaluate industry/higher education engagement, conference proceedings of the Queensland University of Technology Research Week International Conference 4-8 July, Brisbane, Australia. Jansen M, 2005, A Graduated Decline, Property Week 70(19). McGough T, 2005, Times are a Changing, Estates Gazette Interactive, 15 October., accessed 21/11/2005. Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, 2001, Code of Practice for the Assurance of Academic Quality and Standards, Higher Education: Placement Learning, Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, 2001, The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England Wales and Northern Ireland, Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. Sastry T, 2004, Postgraduate Education in the United Kingdom, Higher Education Policy Institute, UK. Tovey R, undated report, Research and Higher Education Course Providers: Their Role in Real Estate Education, RICS.

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