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Developing Professional Capability through Professional Training at the University of Surrey

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Developing Professional Capability through Professional Training at the University of Surrey 


Jenny Willis


In this chapter, the author demonstrates how the University of Surrey has retained its place in the vanguard of professional training, developing graduates with the professional qualities, skills and competences sought by employers, and which equip them for life in general.  She argues that visionary leaders have been crucial to the institution’s success in adapting to changing eras and delivering a unique educational experience.  A brief history of the University’s evolution over more than a century identifies issues central to professional development/ Work Integrated Learning or CO-OP Education.   These are then expanded through discussion of conceptual and epistemological themes such as the assumed objectives of Higher Education, models of experiential learning and competing academic values.  The writer rejects the notion that developing employability should be the primary role of Higher Education.  The University of Surrey’s framework for professional training is explored against the context of changing internal and external factors.  The underlying expectations of the formal professional training programme, assessment processes and students’ perceived benefits are considered.  In the final section of the chapter, the scope for developing professional capability is broadened to include not only the formal curriculum and the placement year, but also the life-wide experiences to which students are exposed throughout their years as a student, in their studies, leisure, volunteering and other activities.  Key individuals and coordinated strategies are seen to be essential to the success of effecting change.  The chapter concludes by demonstrating how collaboration between inter alia Professional Training, the Surrey Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, the International and Careers Offices, has provided a new framework against which cutting-edge research is being conduced, leading to new understanding of what professional capability is and how we can facilitate opportunities for students to develop their professionalism










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