CMM Series | Transition from university to professional life: Are we short-changing graduates?

30th June 2019

CMM article

This article was first published in Campus Morning Mail on 30 June 2019

The debate about whether universities should concern themselves with student employability and careers is over. Today’s question is – how can universities have the most impact on graduate success with employability.

In Australia, nearly 180,000 students graduate with a bachelor’s degree every year, and they are moving to a world characterized by rapid and complex change, globalization and lower graduate employment rates.

Australian government reports on the future of work in 2016 and 2019, argue that graduates will experience multiple occupations over the life of their careers. The complexity and uncertainty inherent in a graduate’s future presents particular challenges for educators and students.

Capstone units and experiences are favored by the Australian higher education system as the most appropriate way to assist final-year graduates to demonstrate knowledge and skills.

An Australian Government National Teaching Fellowship study from 2015 – 2018 into the effectiveness of capstones, discovered that to succeed in the ever-changing world of work, graduates now need a much a larger tool kit that includes competent research and analytical skills, broad general knowledge, practical industry skills, multi digital skills, teamwork problem solving and effective communication skills.

The research also discovered that capstone curriculum design is often limited to the demonstration of knowledge and skills with less emphasis on well-developed personal and professional identities, solid reflective practices and life-long learning skills. This imbalance needs to be addressed.

Ultimately, capstones should prepare graduates for a lifetime of learning and work, not just for their first professional job.


Professor Trevor Cullen

Edith Cowan University

2015 National Teaching Fellow.

Associate Dean – Design, Media and Communications

Director – CREATEC Research Centre


ALTF 2019 Legacy Report here