Cardiff University was established in 1883 and is is the only Welsh member of the Russell Group of research-intensive British universities. Recently named the Welsh University of the Year for 2022, it is the top ranked University in Wales, claiming 35th position out of 135 UK institutions in The Times & The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022.
Cardiff graduates are sought-after by employers - more so than most other major UK universities; 97% of Cardiff graduates were in employment and/or further study, due to start a new job or course, or doing other activities, such as travelling (GraduateOutcomes Survey 2017/18).
The University has a diverse student population with students coming from more than 100 countries and with a range of backgrounds, reflecting the cultural diversity of Cardiff itself, a capital city and governmental and administrative centre of Wales’s fledgling democracy, with both English and Welsh as its official languages. The University is a Welsh institution with a global view, in a cosmopolitan and friendly, multilingual and multicultural city.
The Student Futures service at Cardiff University (formerly known as Careers & Employability) offers a huge range of support to all students, whatever stage they are at in their career thinking.
Read the Cardiff University case study to explore the background, challenge and tremendous success of the employability and skills development platform that has over 4,000 students a year consistently registering to use the platform, and over 270,000 activity page views during the academic year (2020/21) with a 262% increase in engagement over the prior two years.
“Potential.ly enables us to offer a wide range of tools and resources to every student across the University to access as when and how they need to. Over 35,000 resources have been completed, and the recently released, bilingual element will only help more students to develop their employability, as will the ability of the platform to interact with curricular and extra-curricular activities.”
- Leah Doherty, Cardiff Award Manager
The Student Futures team worked with Potentially to build a repository of employability resources in a variety of engaging formats. The ‘sessions’ are currently organised in a career readiness framework comprising four stages; Explore, Develop, Compete and Succeed. Users (current students and recent graduates) can navigate the site in a linear way, following the ‘journey’, or can chose to dip in and out of playlists depending on their current focus or needs.
One of the platform’s key strengths is the ability to use the resources in bite-sized chunks, both in the curriculum and in extra-curricular provision. Direct links to particular pages can easily be disseminated, allowing quick access and reference for students and professional/academic staff alike. Users can also personalize their experience by bookmarking pertinent pages and the progress bars.
The Cardiff Award is an employability award programme that students access through the Your Career Journey platform. It provides a structured framework that offers recognition for students’ career journeys, including the skills and Graduate Attributes developed through their studies, work, volunteering and extra-curricular activities. It offers practical experience of recruitment processes to help students compete in the graduate job market and offers them the opportunity to understand their personal and professional potential from the beginning of their time at the University, then encourages them to participate in both online and in-person activities to develop their employability.
The Student Futures team was keen to increase student engagement with the service’s online offering by establishing a platform that would act as a repository for all employability resources as well as the Award and would be available 24/7 to all students on all devices.
After the team first met the DeputyHead Service, Megan Jenkins, at the AGCAS conference, Potential.ly were brought in to pilot the proposed approach by digitising the Cardiff Award first (negating the need for paper portfolios), with a view to establishing a more comprehensive platform thereafter.
The main overall aims were to:
“Potential.ly enables us to target student engagement by focussing activity on the career readiness stage that students are at. The pilot proved that much of our activity can be as effectively delivered online with the added advantage of being able to reach the whole student population, rather than a few. Students can participate at a time convenient to them, re-watch online content and save work in their personal cloud-based portfolio. Moreover, the platform provides each student with a personality assessment report which has proved both valuable and popular amongst students.”
- Sharon Witts, Careers & Employability Project Manager at Cardiff University
The Student Futures team is focused on being data-driven and evidencing engagement and impact. Through Potentially, the team can view and export extensive analytics, and as Potentially is integrated into SITS, engagement data can be combined with individual programmes of study, status and stage of degree to triangulate data and inform decisions about provision.
Engagement analysis and gap-spotting has led to the development of bespoke sessions for particular cohorts, e.g. research students and early career researchers, international students. These in turn provide valuable links with colleagues across the University who are able to promote the support and engage with its continued development.
Statistics show that over 4,000 students a year consistently register to use the platform, and during the academic year 2020/21, total page views came to over 270,000. In terms of growth over the last two years, these numbers represent a 262%increase in engagement.
Overtime, the offering from the Student Futures team at Cardiff has grown to a rich online network of learning resources and activities for students, most of which is delivered via Potential.ly (and where it is housed elsewhere, seamlessly linked to from the platform). The range of the offering is testament to the ease-of-use of the Potentially content editor, and the platform’s ability to embed and include other tools. The Student Futures team created what can be considered a benchmark programme of rich media and activities within one learning context, comprising:
“When considering upscaling and continuing to offer a quality service with either the same or even reduced team, buy-in is vital at all levels, both within the department and across the institution. Within our Service, promotion of the platform and Award is included in all student-facing staff members’ remits. Sharing the responsibility in this way doesn’t have a huge impact on workloads. Word of mouth is our best recruitment channel and in particular academic endorsement, so it is worth the time and effort to build those relationships.”
Emily McCarthy, Information Systems Project Officer and former Cardiff Award Manager
TheCardiff team were in a position to respond very quickly to the impact the pandemic had on Universities’ ability to deliver remote teaching and extra-curricular support to students. Student Futures staff were able to continue to signpost to the substantive 24/7 access Your Career Journey platform resources but also work quickly to create and curate new resources in response to the rapidly-evolving Covid-19 situation, working with employer contacts to ensure all advice was up to date and as relevant as possible.
The team is looking at further increasing Your Career Journey registrations and Award sign-ups, along with increasing retention and completion rates. They are also looking to utilise the gamification tools within the platform and to explore tracking and presenting students’ learning gain.
Secure and seamless login and journeys between the platform and other services (VLE, Job Boards systems, SITs...)