Combining work and study – a solution?
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Anyone dealing regularly with advising students is aware of the conflict between academic and non-academic pursuits, in particular paid employment, that can lead to under-performance and absence frequently followed by withdrawal from the course. Work has been perceived as conflicting with study rather than enhancing the learning experience, unless it is part of a sandwich course. Current progression rates indicate that some of those withdrawing at first and second year are working part-time and not combining work and study effectively. In order to address this issue it was necessary to devise a structured approach that gave credit to students whilst at work that also enhanced the learning experience. To that end, the Advisor of Studies devised a module to help students structure their personal development for work and study. The purposes of introducing the module were to: • Improve students’ performance in examinations and coursework. • Minimise “drop-out” rates. The design of the programme integrates the skills required for academic study with those developed as a result of employment, voluntary work or vocational training that is not otherwise recognised as a part of the course undertaken. The module aims to counteract this cause of poor progression by acknowledging and directing the skills and knowledge attained in a non-academic environment. Students who leave with the Diploma in Higher Education and utilised this option are expected to be more likely to return to their studies at a later date. In conjunction with the assessment strategy adopted it is envisaged that the module will, to a certain extent, address one cause of poor progression.