Graduate attributes, personalisation and citizenship
Higher education is in a state of transformation across the world. However, given the worldwide economic situation, there are emerging tensions that bear upon this upheaval such as reactive versus proactive approaches with respect to knowledge paradigms; a focus on the knowledge economy versus the knowledge society; and knowledge relevance versus competitively driven knowledge. The net effect of this is that graduates require a range of attributes that enable them to deal with, not only employability, but also an increasing concern with global issues and the development of civic awareness and responsibility. One of the major initiatives in Scotland that has tried to tackle these issues is the ‘The Graduates in the 21st Century Enhancement Theme’. This aims to encourage Scottish higher education institutions to focus on the development of graduate attributes. It is recognised this needs to be co-ordinated in such a way as to equip an increasingly diverse student population with the attributes required for citizenship in a knowledge society and economy. There is also a focus on personalisation; a concept that has been imported from the United States and has been applied to both school education and tertiary education. It is, however, also part of a wider agenda for the reform of all public services that responds more directly to the diverse needs of individuals rather than imposing uniform solutions on people. Citizens increasingly are provided with choice and customisation in public services and this has now also become a key feature of higher education in terms of policy roll-outs on personal development planning and more generally as part of the wider participation agenda. The implications this turn towards citizenship are evaluated through reference to the tension between individualistic notions of customisation versus attempts to create a more democratic and inclusive approach.