As the latest cohort of students is welcomed onto the Teesside University campus this autumn, preparations have been made to ensure that the environment in which they learn will develop exactly the right skills for them to succeed in the workplace when they graduate.
The frenetic pace of campus life has not lessened at Teesside University over the summer break as builders and contractors have been busy readying the new Business School in time for the start of the new semester.
The £7.5m project to provide a modern and flexible new home for the growing Business School has seen the total refurbishment of the Student Centre to provide a contemporary new teaching space equipped with the latest technologically-enabled facilities.
The work is part of a £350m investment which the university is making in its campus over the next ten years.
Allied to the new building, however, is an ethos which stresses the importance of working together with business to ensure that graduates are meeting its needs, and ultimately contributing to the economic growth of the Tees Valley.
This means ensuring that learners on all courses don’t only acquire knowledge about business, but also develop the behaviours and skills they need to apply that knowledge and to be successful in the workplace.
Syndicate rooms and collaborative work zones in the new Business School will encourage collaboration not just between students and staff, but also with members of the business community.
The Business School, like other schools in the university, offers degree apprenticeships, designed in conjunction with employers which allow students to earn and learn at the same time. The school is also working with ambitious companies and the Tees Valley Combined Authority on its LEAP 50 programme aimed at supporting businesses in successfully scaling up.
“Our approach is based on our core Business School philosophy: that if we are truly to make a difference, we must develop people who are enterprising in attitude, collaborative in action, global in outlook and civic in thinking,” says Dr Susan Laing, the dean of the Business School (pictured above).
This innovative and collaborative ethos is not confined to the Business School.
The Future Facing Learning initiative, one of the biggest and most ambitious digital rollouts in the higher education sector, has seen the university embracing cutting-edge digital technology to completely change the way that students learn.
Every single full-time undergraduate – approximately 4,000 students – is receiving a new iPad and a specially selected toolkit of apps which will enable them to excel at University and beyond.
In addition, around 400 staff are currently taking part in phase one of Microsoft’s Digital Development Programme, with all remaining academic staff beginning their training from January.
As well as enabling staff to access a wealth of development opportunities available through Microsoft’s Education Community, they can also achieve Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIEE) certification upon completion of the programme.
Claire Riley, FE and HE engagement manager for Microsoft in the UK, has been impressed with Teesside University’s ambition to embed digital technology throughout all aspects of its teaching and learning.
She says that currently there are 270 people in the UK with Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert status, but Teesside University alone will shortly have up to 400 when staff have completed the programme.
“Teesside’s ambition and passion for digital transformation knows no bounds,” she adds.
“It has been fantastic to work with their staff who are completing a rich learning pathway designed for the new world, with Microsoft Teams at its heart.”
Professor Mark Simpson, pro vice-chancellor (learning and teaching) at Teesside University, adds: “A great deal of work has gone into Future Facing Learning and it is an extremely ambitious scheme, designed to ensure that all of our students are future-ready and are equipped with the skills and attributes which employers are looking for.”
The university’s Student Futures strategy is now also firmly embedded across the university.
As well as developing key employability skills for students, the ground-breaking strategy also works alongside employers to understand the needs of their businesses.
As a result, courses and programmes can be adjusted accordingly in order to create valuable future employees.
Working with employers to deliver the skills that they need ensures Teesside graduates can be reassured that their qualifications will stand them in good stead to meet the challenges of the modern workplace.