Student voice and influence on employability in Australian higher education

Lisa Andrewartha, Andrew Harvey



Higher education institutions are increasingly focussed on improving the capacity and potential of their graduates to gain employment. Attempts to develop employability skills through both mainstream and extra-curricular activities create new demands and expectations for students. Despite these demands, little attention has been given to student voice and influence in the employability sphere. Furthermore, the specific role of student unions in improving employability has been marginalised in Australian research. The research reported in this paper involved conducting a national survey of student groups and a comprehensive desktop review to capture student perspectives and investigate strategies to improve employability. From the research five broad student-centred approaches were identified: providing input into university employability strategies; placing students in positions of leadership and responsibility; delivering careers services; managing clubs and societies; and advocating for students from equity groups who have relatively poor completion rates and/or graduate outcomes. The findings are discussed and recommendations targeted to higher education institutions and student unions are provided.


higher education, graduate employability, student unions, student voice, student equity

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