The University of Aberdeen has announced the outcome of a major review of undergraduate teaching, with plans to give Aberdeen graduates the advantages of restructured and enhanced degree programmes.
The comprehensive overhaul and resulting proposals place Aberdeen in the vanguard of international developments in undergraduate education alongside major universities such as Melbourne, Harvard, Yale and Hong Kong.
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning in the Scottish Government, welcomed the proposals during a visit today (Monday 30 March) to the University. The Cabinet Secretary met Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor C Duncan Rice and members of the project team, and took part in a launch event with an invited audience representing University staff, students, business, education and public life.
Ms Hyslop said: "The changes being made by the University of Aberdeen will bring a host of benefits for future students, as well as the local and national economy. By offering opportunities to study a much broader range of subjects and enabling students to enhance their skills and experience through a range of optional activities, the University is increasing their future career and study options.
"The changes will also ensure that when students leave university they are better prepared for the world of work and ready to make their contribution to Scotland's future economic success.
"I also want to congratulate the University on introducing more flexible entry, exit and re-entry points for students. I'm sure that this will be welcomed by all students, particularly those who have to juggle their studies with other family commitments."
Next week, as part of a visit to China, the Cabinet Secretary will also visit Hong Kong University which has a strong partnership with the University of Aberdeen She will see at first hand how the curriculum model is working for students and staff there. Hong Kong was one of the leading international universities consulted by Aberdeen as part of developing its proposals.
Welcoming the Cabinet Secretary's comments, Professor C Duncan Rice, Principal and Vice-Chancellor said: "The curriculum reform proposals are among the most important products of my time as Principal. They underpin our strategy to create a student experience designed specifically for contemporary learning and life in this century.
"Our plans blend the traditions and environment of a research-intensive ancient university with an internationally benchmarked curriculum, excellent student support, and campus facilities of the highest quality such as our new library and sports village."
The proposals are the result of an extensive 18-month review process to modernise the structure, content, delivery and flexibility of Aberdeen degrees to ensure they match the needs of graduates and employers within the emerging global economy and society. Employers, professional bodies, current students, prospective students and their parents, schools and other interested parties all contributed to the resulting recommendations.
The proposals will help Aberdeen graduates to leave the University academically excellent, intellectually flexible, and committed to personal development, while also being critical thinkers, effective communicators and active citizens.
From 2010, undergraduate students at Aberdeen will have a more flexible degree structure, which retains all the quality and depth of the traditional Scottish degree, and adds these further benefits:
″ Increased curriculum flexibility, to add further breadth to core subjects, add sustained study in a language or business, or choose new multi-disciplinary courses focused on real world problems.
″ Increased opportunities to broaden experience and skills through a wide range of optional activities overseen by the University, such as study overseas, work placements and voluntary work.
″ Enhanced support for students, including more scholarships, new student centres to act as 'one-stop shops' bringing together support services, and new, flexible learning spaces on campus to complement lecture theatres and labs.
″ Flexibility to meet today's changing needs, including study breaks, accrediting completed periods of study, and a flexible framework to allow entry and re-entry to programmes depending on qualifications.