Postgrads Teach Us A Valuable Lesson: The Collaborative Project

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Engineering Tutor Helping Student During Teaching Session-724

The institute of student employers (ISE) found that 12% fewer jobs will be available for those leaving university and post-grad courses this year. That’s a large pool of talent that could find it difficult to enter the workforce after they finish their studies.

We can’t help thinking about how this could impact graduates in the long term. While there is no quick fix for such a raw and large-scale problem, businesses can open up opportunities to students to help them prepare for what comes next. Organisations are already thinking of innovative ways to connect with the higher education sector and prevent this loss in the UK and beyond.

On the flip side, there is a vast amount of expertise sitting within universities and post-grad establishments; creative minds with fresh perspectives to offer organisations and help tackle the issues businesses are up against in the wake of the pandemic.

Students translate their learnings into the world as effective collaborators while helping organisations explore innovation opportunities. Click To Tweet

Partnering with Loughborough London 

Like many companies, we want to figure out how to support the next generation of diverse talent. This is why we joined Loughborough University London’s Collaborative Project.

The Collaborative Project is a cross-disciplinary collaborative innovation module that empowers all students to develop knowledge through experiential learning by working with each other and partner organisations. Students address a real-world brief from one of Loughborough London’s partner organisations. After selecting a brief, student teams work to solve the problem through a combination of academic research and innovation methods. On top of this, they gather qualitative and quantitative data and collaborate with the company. The teams work together for the semester to explore the innovative and creative solutions to the brief.

Dr Anthony Brown is the academic Project Lead for the RingCentral brief, and Ashley Gray is Learning Partnerships Manager for the programme. Ashley told us a bit about why projects like this are crucial both for partner businesses and the students involved:

“We’re delighted to partner with RingCentral on the Collaborative Project this year. Its expertise as a market-leading vendor within the communications industry will allow students to access extremely valuable expert resources and insights. Collaborate is a programme designed to bridge the gap between academia and industry at scale. It helps students translate their learnings into the world as effective collaborators while helping organisations explore innovation opportunities, become closer to our enterprising ecosystem and perhaps find their next recruit.”


Taking on the challenge

So, how does the project work in practice? We now have 20 students that have chosen the RingCentral brief. We will present this to them and answer any follow-up questions before developing a response to how RingCentral could position communications and collaboration technology to the UK’s public sector.

Firstly, students will have the semester to prepare their response and present it to select members of the RingCentral team. Secondly, we’ll look deeper into students individually, combining peer evaluation, the final report’s content, and a personal reflective essay. Finally, a team will be selected and invited to present at the Collaborative Project Show to all the other partner organisations, students, staff, and the general public.

The Collaborative Project is only one element of the Collaborate programme we’re doing with Loughborough London. Some students will also take on a Collaborative Dissertation with our team, working in more depth as individuals. Further, we’re working closely with academic departments across the institution, creating a dedicated zone for students to use within our developer platform, Game Changers. We have produced this zone for students to enhance their skills through gamified learning; by completing specific tasks, they earn points and get chances to win rewards. 

We’re looking forward to the research kicking off and seeing the creative ways students come back on the brief. Meanwhile, if you have any ideas on how businesses can partner with higher education institutions, please leave a comment.

Originally published Mar 15, 2021, updated Jan 16, 2023

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