University of South Wales: Strengthening the Welsh financial services industry through a workplace MSc partnership

University of South Wales: Strengthening the Welsh financial services industry through a workplace MSc partnership

The university has partnered with a consortium of four large financial services companies to deliver a unique MSc that combines work experience with part time study

 

This case study originally appeared on page 84 of the State of the Relationship 2014. The report outlines the state of university-business collaboration in the UK, featuring expert views and over forty case studies. Read the full report.

“As the financial services industry in Wales grows, demand has increased for better qualified and experienced employees. This new programme offers a unique opportunity for graduates to work for leading Welsh companies and gain high level skills in the sector.”
Anne Middleton, HR Manager, Atradius

Experts from the University of South Wales are working in partnership with a consortium of four of Wales’s biggest financial services companies - Atradius, Admiral, GMAC and Composite Legal - to deliver credits towards an MSc in Financial Services based in workplace learning. The project arose directly from the university’s ambition to deliver financial services courses at undergraduate, postgraduate and professional level, both to produce industry-ready graduates and to up-skill the existing industry workforce. This strategy was developed in response to the Welsh government's aim of increasing employment in the Welsh financial services industry, retaining talented graduates to the Welsh sector, and to attract new financial services firms to Wales.

Each of the 20 graduates on the two-year pilot programme, which is part-funded by the Welsh Government’s Sector Priorities Fund, will undertake a six-month training seat with each organisation while completing the MSc on a part-time basis. The programme sees employers taking a more cohesive approach to training and recruiting potential employees, and is an excellent example of collaboration between the private, public and higher education sector.

The project faced two main challenges: focusing the university’s timescales to meet the required start date and addressing the tender's specification that a substantial part of the degree be awarded by the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL). This requirement was met by designing four work-based learning modules, which students would complete during their four six-month periods of work experience.

The project is the first of its kind for the financial services sector in Wales. Donna Whitehead, head of the School of Law, Accounting and Finance says the University of South Wales was chosen to deliver the project because of its “strong track record in providing flexible, tailor made learning in the workplace”.

Anne Middleton, HR Manager at Atradius, adds: “As the financial services industry in Wales grows, demand has increased for better qualified and experienced employees. This new programme offers a unique opportunity for graduates to work for leading Welsh companies and gain high level skills in the sector.”

With the benefit of hindsight, the university feels the allocation of more staff resource up front would address the obstacles of tight timescales, demands of a high-profile project and the increase in workload. Moving forward, faculty are already in discussion with the consortium about collaborating on a project to determine what a future scheme might look like. The school is also keen to deliver a variant of the MSc which would be available to existing employees and trainees of other local financial services companies.

This successful University-business partnership is not the first for the University of South Wales. Its partnership with British Airways, for instance, saw the Company move key heavy engineering training from Heathrow to the University. The landmark agreement combines technical training for one of the world’s leading airlines with the enhanced career prospects of a university degree, with students graduating with both an engineering degree and industry-standard EASA training through BA’s licence.


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