Higgins, Holly

Holly Higgins
Start date:
October 2012
Research Topic:
The purpose of higher education, and the relationship between higher education and work.
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Prof. Phillip Brown and Prof. David James
Supervising school:
School of Social Sciences,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

Most research on graduate jobs focuses on employability rather than work performance, and is concerned with graduates’ ability to access, secure and maintain employment in an increasingly competitive and unequal labour market. As a result there is quite a lot of research exploring the relationship between higher education and the labour market, but very little exploring the relationship between higher education and work.

I’m conducting qualitative interviews with graduates working in journalism, teaching and law to explore the nature and demands of their work in order to identify and examine features that may be of interest to academics and policymakers seeking to understand the possible relationship(s) between higher education and work. I’ll be drawing on my findings to examine whether the skills-based models of employability that currently inform understanding of graduates’ work offer an accurate and reliable representation of the demands associated with the kinds of occupations graduates are expected to progress into (and consequently a reliable basis upon which to formulate higher education policy).