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Co-Creation: Innovating with Students and Industry for Better Employability

Mollie Dollinger, Ph.D. Candidate and Researcher at the University of Melbourne


Innovating with Students and Industry for Better Employability

Students, universities and employers all the want the same thing: capable work-force ready graduates. But despite alignment on the outcomes, the process of preparing students for the workforce is still far from clear-cut.

Think for a moment about the student experience. For all the research and emphasis on student engagement, university teaching and learning has not changed much. Teachers design and carry out curriculum, students do their best to learn it, and employers hope that at the end they’ll have an exceptional and well-trained hire. What’s missing?

Collaboration between students, industry and universities is desperately needed. Universities can achieve this through design-focused thinking, such as co-creation. Why place the burden of designing a great business or history course solely on the teacher? Students and industry experts have different perspectives and ideas, and tapping into their resources such as knowledge and time, courses can better serve everyone.

At the University of Melbourne’s Centre for the Study of Higher Education (MCSHE) co-creation and design thinking are front and center for innovative higher education solutions, offering a wide array of benefits including:

  • Deeper understanding and collaboration with students;
  • A potential new source of innovative ideas for universities;
  • Improving graduate employability by encouraging student leadership, autonomy, and self-direction.

Not all academics are rooting for co-creation to take hold, but it’s unlikely to slow down anytime soon. Within industry, users already have new pathways to collaborate with businesses and improve services and practices. That’s why it’s key for higher education institutions to recognise the changing tide and rather than block, facilitate co-creation.

How can universities embrace co-creation?

The most important step is changing traditional mindsets. Experts and leaders in higher education should encourage all staff to re-think their daily habits and practices to allow for more dynamic change and improvement. This likely requires professional development programs that explain and give best practice examples.

But also universities need to create more pathways and structures to help students and industry get involved. Everything from online portals, apps, forums, and workshops should be explored. Meaningful participation needs a strong foundation and a deep commitment.

As students and industry both continue to call for more practical and innovative outcomes within higher education, processes like co-creation will grow. The way forward is to understand how to facilitate and expand co-creation practices for optimal outcomes for student, universities, and employers.

The Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education (Melbourne CSHE)

The Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education (Melbourne CSHE) conducts research and professional development in the fields of higher education teaching and learning, research, engagement and leadership and management. We aim to deliver quality and innovation in each of these fields through our signature research themes, distinctive projects, practical programs and special events.

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