Guest blog: Making an impact with alternative routes

20 Apr 2017

London South Bank University was founded 125 years ago with the aim of “promoting industrial skill, general knowledge, health and well-being to young men and women belonging to the poorer classes”.

Although higher education has changed significantly over the years, the mission has remained largely the same: to provide professional opportunities to all who can benefit. Seventy-six per cent of our first-degree, full time students are in highly-skilled employment or further study within six months of graduating.

LSBU provides education to individuals from all backgrounds. We are located in an area of London with high ethnic diversity alongside pockets of deprivation and low participation in higher education. A significant proportion of our student population are non-traditional HE entrants: 97% come from state schools, 70% are mature learners, 53% of our undergraduate students identify as BME, and 46% are the first in their family to attend university.

Working in partnership with employers and professional, statutory and regulatory bodies, and being responsive to their needs, is essential to the relevance of our awards and our graduates’ success. We are in the top ten institutions in the UK for employer sponsored education, with nearly 1,000 employer partners, and over half our courses have professional accreditation in addition to their academic status. We involve employers in the design and delivery of our courses which increases students’ perception of the relevance and value of their education and ensures our graduates leave with skills that are valued by employers. We are at the forefront of the new Degree Apprenticeship delivery, as one of only 18 universities to receive funding from a new £4.5 million fund to support Degree Apprenticeships, and are one of the first universities to deliver the Chartered Surveyor Degree Apprenticeship reflecting our position as a leading university in this field. Providing alternative routes into higher education through such ‘learn-while-you-earn’ models can attract candidates who may otherwise have been unable or unwilling to take on significant student debt.

To ensure our students’ education is relevant to challenges in the modern workplace and that they can develop confidence in their professional skills, we provide industry standard facilities such as our virtual engineering laboratory which allows students to interact with simulated large-scale industrial projects; nursing wards with life-size simulator mannequins that can be programmed with various clinical conditions; and for our media and arts students, the Elephant Studios, which incorporates production studios, a fully equipped radio studio and newsroom for broadcast and online streaming and a Green Room for interviewees and artists to use.

We also provide our students with the tools to take their own career forward with entrepreneurship embedded into the curriculum including employer engagement and extramural opportunities to increase their social capital; LSBU supported 57 new graduate start-ups last year. 

Our success in achieving our mission is reflected in LSBU’s ranking as the best London modern university for graduate outcomes and starting salaries, and through the Times Higher Education Award of Entrepreneurial University of the Year 2016.

Professor Shân Wareing
Pro Vice-Chancellor, Education and Student Experience
London South Bank University

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