Learning and the Transition into Work

Transition from higher education to work is not well understood. Computing graduates moving into work into the IT industry might be expected to make this transition more easily that their peers for whom degree subject and employment are less obviously related. However, IT employers find it relatively easy to identify additional attributes that they would like graduate recruits to display on arrival at work. Consequently it has been argued that universities are not preparing graduates who are ready to move straight into the the computer industry.

In order to examine the extent to which these criticisms reflect graduates' experiences, this research will explore undergraduate and initial career experiences of computing students. It will also look at assumptions made about the transfer of learning from higher education to workplaces.


  • To investigate computing graduates' transition from undergraduate students to graduates working in the computing industry.
  • To test the utility of learning 'transfer' and 'transferable skills' in relation to participants' experiences of transition.
  • To build a model of transition
  • To explore how HE learning experience is utilised in the workplace.
  • To investigate the role of industrial placements in preparing undergraduates for work.


This is a three year longitudinal study with lightly structured in-depth interviews as the primary means of data gathering. The project is split into two distinct phases.

In the first phase final year undergraduates will be interviewed about how they came to be on their programme of study, their experiences of study and industrial placement (if they have done one) and their career plans and expectations. It is also intended to seek to understand what it means to be a graduate for the individual students who take part in the study.

In the second phase some of the phase one graduates who have gone on to work in the computer industry will be interviewed. These interviews will explore how they feel their university experience prepared them for work and also their ongoing learning and professional development.