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Thursday, August 19, 1999 Published at 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK

UK: Scotland

Working towards a degree

The university says 85% of students take on a term-time job

Students at a Scottish university who take on part-time jobs will be able to use their experiences to count toward their degrees.

The Napier University students are the first in the country with an opportunity to turn their working lives into award-winning course work.

For the past two terms, they have had to keep a journal of their employment. They must also analyse the skills learned in their work.

Their written work is then marked by tutors and counts towards their degrees.

One of the students pulled pints, another took a job in a wine shop, while others worked in libraries and shops.

[ image: Work experience can be used for course work]
Work experience can be used for course work
Lucy McLeod, academic developer at the university in Edinburgh, said: "Recognising the fact that 85% of students take term-time jobs to support themselves through university, we looked at how we could help make that as positive as possible.

"We know that students learn a lot about their own skills and how the workplace functions from these jobs, but they don't necessarily realise unless it can be put into some form of structure."

Ms McLeod stressed the students did not just get marks for having a job.

"They learn about health and safety, and have to analyse things like stock control or a rota system. They also have to think about management skills and what they have learned from their bosses," she added.

Peter Davies, a journalism student who graduated this summer, spent five weeks working as a reporter at a local newspaper and another five weeks working as a production assistant on hospital radio as part of the scheme.

Ward rounds

He said: "On hospital radio I was going round the wards to get requests and broadcasting information bulletins on the half hour.

"I had to do a mammoth project to go with it, of about 12,000 words. Much of it was reflecting on difficult interviewees."

About 20 students took part in the 10-week project last year, and it is expanding this year. Other universities around the country have expressed interest in following suit.

David Banks, of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, praised the scheme.

"As long as it is integrated in an acceptable way I would say that it would be a positive move forward," he said.

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