This year, Perth College University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) provided exhibition space for the College Expo 2019. The event brought together over 50 exhibitors involved in further and higher education, including exhibitors from the university itself, EDU Solutions UK, Civica Finance, ClickView, the National Library of Scotland and the College Development Network (CDN), who hosted the event and, of course, EPALE UK. Exhibitors who are not directly involved with education but will be of interest to students, such as Hostelling Scotland, were also present.
UHI offers many different educational opportunities to students aged 16 and above, including a mix of degree and apprenticeship programmes. A very popular stand at the event was the chocolate pop-up, part of the ‘Skills in Action’ focus – this saw staff and students creating breath-taking chocolate products, including painted shoes, hollow animals and a range of individual smaller scale sweets such as a white chocolate berry ganache truffles. This aspect of study forms part of a food and hospitality apprenticeship; just one of the many vocational apprenticeships on offer at the university. The City of Glasgow College also featured their make-up and beauty courses, offering delegates a range of discounted treatments including manicures and massages.
Perth College is one of thirteen campuses that make up the University of the Highlands and Islands. The campus specialises in courses focusing on Aircraft Engineering, Audio Engineering, Music and Sustainable Mountain Development. One stand at the event gave a cohesive picture of the many degree courses on offer and delegates were able to discuss with members of staff the different options available to students, young and adult alike, interested in studying at the Perth campus.
Thematic focus of the event and Mr Will Higham's insights
The thematic focus of the College Expo 2019 was ‘Success in a Changing World’. On day two of the event, keynote speaker Will Higham, who runs strategic consultancy Next Big Thing, discussed the post-millennial generation: their needs, desires and defining qualities, and how institutions can ensure that they cater well to the students of tomorrow. Mr Higham has worked across different industries that require a knowledge of different generations and age groups, including the music industry. Whilst he has found millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) to be a generation that feels they desire instantaneous gratification, post-millennials have a very different life view. Growing up during the recession has encouraged a ‘DIY generation’ – they are more aware of saving, are not so self-entitled and are more proactive. However, this has not come without problems – there is a reason that so many students suffer from mental health problems like anxiety and loneliness. They are viewing the world with an acute awareness of the struggles they could face – the possibilities of a volatile job market, the fear of redundancy and the need to continually build new skills to make themselves indispensable all add pressure to young adults. This relates strongly to EPALE’s recent focus on health and wellness, particularly with statistics that prove that a meagre 17% of students consider themselves to be happy, and that 58% of college and university students want their fees spent on care services provided by their institutions. This is a generation highly aware of the need to gain a sense of comfort, community and control over their own lives.
Mr Higham also described the fact that students appear to feel greater vertical distrust (distrust of those above them – be it government or their educational providers), distress (in terms of feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety), but also that they show greater levels of determination than perhaps any generation that has come before them. They want to succeed and they want to do this themselves – they show much spirit and this can be of huge benefit to institutions. Being able to invite their friends and family (horizontal trust – trusting those they can relate to) to their universities and colleges to help them adjust to their new lives as students, being able to enjoy a range of care services to provide essential comfort during difficult and stressful events, and being able to customise courses and educational provision to suit their specific needs is essential if they are to succeed and enjoy their lives.
Is success in a changing world possible?
College Expo 2019 certainly proves that ‘Success in a Changing World’ is possible. With a drive to deliver more high quality apprenticeships with increased choice as to the subjects on offer, and with a multitude of desirable degrees in specialist areas provided across the United Kingdom, students have more reason than ever to seek out further and higher education opportunities that appeal to their individual needs. If institutions and their practitioners take on board the views of Will Higham and ensure they offer great care services and tailored courses to suit individual students, they will continue to entice generations for years to come.
You might also be interested in:
- Building Anxiety Heroes – Part One (blog) – considers neuroscience and how anxiety can be an emotion for both bad and good
- FELTAG: Using Technology for Learning in Further Education (blog) – discusses the recommendations made by the Further Education Learning Technology Group in respect of the need for innovative digitalisation of Further Education Colleges
- Four engaging apps for higher education tutors and teachers (blog) – explores four great apps that will appeal to tutors and teachers working in higher education
- Mental Health Awareness Week – Activity Pack for Workplaces (resource) – ideal for helping managers and employees recognise mental health problems issues and have constructive conversations about these kinds of issues