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NHS ‘anxious’ about MSc work-based learning

The NHS is “generally ‘anxious’” about research conducted by MSc students on Cardiff University work-based learning programmes, a review of the Welsh higher education system has found.

Cardiff provides part-time MSc programmes in clinical engineering and orthopaedic engineering to healthcare professionals. Students spend time conducting research for their studies while learning on the job.

“External (NHS) professional providers were generally ‘anxious’ about the research process and not familiar with the particular requirements of an MSc degree, or a degree from the host institution,” states the report, which recommends that hosts “be encouraged to fully engage in the research process”.

NHS professional providers were found to be “generally engaged, ‘familiar’ and ‘comfortable’” with the taught elements of the MSc courses. However, concerns were raised over assessments and guidance.

The report is part of a broader review by the Higher Education Academy as part of its remit from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales. The review sets strategies for the period 2011-12 to 2013-14.

Through surveys and focus groups, the study also found that both staff and students preferred seminars and workshops over larger learning environments, such as lectures. The study makes several recommendations for how staff can improve employability.

For academics, the study recommends “intra-curriculum initiatives…to directly engage with employability through employer involvement in student learning and work-related assessments”.

It says professional developers and senior managers work best when they connect with employers strategically and offer flexible learning approaches.