David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, congratulates Bristol to achieve accreditation in the biosciencesThe University of Bristol is one of the first UK universities to receive accreditation for its undergraduate biochemistry course as part of a new scheme designed to raise the standard of bioscience higher education and tackle the bioscience skills gap.
The Society of Biology developed the Accreditation Programme to address this gap between the skills graduates possess and the skills employers need. A recent survey of bioscience employers by the Society of Biology found that 45 per cent of respondents couldn’t recruit candidates who met the needs of all their graduate-entry level jobs.
The Rt. Hon. David Willetts MP, who will be speaking at the Accreditation Award Ceremony today, where four courses including the University of Bristol’s BSc in Biochemistry with a Year in Industry will gain accredited status.
David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said: "Well-informed students are at the heart of our higher education reforms. The Society of Biology’s Accreditation Programme will signpost students to the degree courses recognised by industry as providing the essential scientific and practical skills needed for a career in life sciences. This will further support one of Britain’s most important growth sectors."
As the cost of university rises, students are becoming increasingly keen to maximise their employability. Degrees accredited by a professional body are attractive to future employers, and accredited degrees are already available to chemistry, physics and engineering students.
However, with the exception of biomedical science, accreditation did not previously exist for biological science degrees.
Rachel Lambert-Forsyth, Head of Education at the Society of Biology, added: "Our Accreditation Programme is unique as the criteria are based on learning outcomes instead of providing a list of knowledge and techniques that students must be taught.
It externally recognises academic excellence in the biosciences, highlighting degrees which educate the research and development leaders and innovators of the future."
A lack of practical skills and experience of working in a research lab or field environment are common reasons stated by employers for not employing a graduate. As a result, the Accreditation criteria put a strong emphasis on academic excellence, research experience and, critically, time spent in an active research environment.
A pilot of the Accreditation Programme focusing on biochemistry and in vivo (animal) sciences was launched last June. The courses receiving Accreditation on 20 March through the pilot are: