The curriculum at Harper Adams University is based on very close links with the professions, industries and communities concerned with the rural economies, the food chain and animal welfare. The campus is at the heart of a working farm and countryside estate, with high quality companion animal, food and engineering design facilities also on site, including some state-of-the art sustainable technologies. This enables academic staff to develop students' technical and practical skills, which underpin the applied and professional nature of our courses. This approach to developing employability has resulted in excellent employment levels, resulting in Harper Adams' graduates consistently performing within the top ten most successful of all universities' graduates for employment levels.
Aim1: To ensure that higher level, workplace skills are embedded in the undergraduate curriculum
Our Foundation Degree programmes include applied skills modules, while students on Honours Degree programmes are able to access a range of skills based, licence to practise, courses, at a discounted rate, through our Land-Based Skills Programme. As well as the provision of practical skills, all programmes develop the transferable skills required for success in the workplace, specifically communication, information technology, numeracy and data analysis, personal and career management, team-working, problem solving and independent research. All students undertake a final year project, often sponsored by companies, centred on real world challenges.
Aim 2: To provide career guidance, information and support
The Careers Service at Harper Adams University provides support to students seeking employment guidance prior to, during and after their course of study. In particular, the Careers Advisers are available to meet with students on a one-to-one basis and in group sessions to develop career planning, to practise interview skills and to prepare CVs. Two Careers Fairs are held in the autumn each year, attended by key employers associated with the rural economies and food chain, while other employers routinely visit the University to make presentations to students and discuss their career ambitions. The Careers Service has also developed a web based vacancies service, with hundreds of vacancies posted each year by employers, to support further the career opportunities for students studying in the land-based sector.
Aim 3: To provide opportunities for work-based learning
All of our undergraduate courses incorporate an assessed sandwich placement, typically of one year's duration, which is central to the curriculum. We work with approximately 400 sandwich placement employers on a regular basis, placing over 400 students a year. A Placement Co-ordinator, two Placement Administrators and a team of course-specific Placement Managers are available to assist students in securing appropriate placements and to support them during their period of sandwich employment. Some placements link directly to professional accreditation requirements.
Aim 4: To facilitate professional accreditation
In 2012/13, approximately 50% of our undergraduate students were registered on courses that are accredited by professional bodies. We have long-standing links with bodies such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, Veterinary Practice Management Association, the Institution of Agricultural Engineers, Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Chartered Management Institute. Employers participate in the review and approval of undergraduate programmes and a team of professional advisers also provide the employers' perspective of our curriculum. Our Learning and Teaching Strategy sets out the ambition to seek further opportunities for more of our courses to receive endorsement from professional bodies. Most recently, we have worked with the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management, the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour and the National Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists towards successful accreditation of three more of our courses, which will be of great benefit to new students. Additionally, we work closely with a number of other professional, training or regulatory bodies to design and/or deliver run programmes of value to those working in the professions. This connection with such bodies helps to ensure that our programmes are relevant to the professions1. We are also able to provide on-site accredited short courses for those students keen to secure additional professional qualifications.
1Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority (AMTRA); BASIS (Registration) Ltd (incorporating Fertilisers Advisers Certification and Training Scheme - FACTS); Livestock Auctioneers Association (LAA); Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers of Scotland (IAAS); Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST); National Office of Animal Health (NOAH)