Case Study: Edge Hill University - CIMSPA Higher Education Partner

Edge Hill University Graphic

Since participating in the CIMSPA Higher Education endorsement pilot programme two years ago, Edge Hill University has been working with the CIMSPA Regulation and Standards team to align a number of their sport and physical activity degrees with CIMSPA professional standards.

To highlight the success of the partnership, CIMSPA interviews Professor Andy Smith, Senior Manager in the Department of Sport and Physical Activity at Edge Hill University.

Andy Smith

Professor Andy Smith

Professor of Sport and Physical Activity

Department of Sport and Physical Activity

Edge Hill University

Q1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and the CIMSPA partner you are representing?

“I am one of the senior managers for sport and physical activity at Edge Hill University and have an active responsibility for our sports management, coaching and development provision. I am also a programme leader of our postgraduate course in sport, physical activity and mental health.

Edge Hill University is an institute known for its excellence in teaching and learning, particularly in relation to sport and physical activity. We try to ensure students and staff are appropriately prepared to meet the challenges of the industry, particularly in the workforce, over the next five to ten years. This ensures students engage in studies that are industry relevant and academically rigorous. This is underpinned by our staff, teaching and research that support a wider range of communities and diverse sets of students.”

Q2. What benefits has Edge Hill University received since becoming CIMSPA endorsed?

“As one of the original 10 universities who participated in the CIMSPA higher education pilot I believe the benefits of CIMSPA endorsement are threefold.

The first benefit is strategic direction. Working with the CIMSPA team has certainly helped us to bring further strategic clarity to decision making and thinking, particularly in relation to our current and future provision and how this aligns with the new professional standards.

The second benefit is degree and sector alignment. The endorsement process has helped to shape the nature of our curriculum design. It helped us to reflect upon how we can better leverage the existing expertise of our teaching, research and knowledge exchange for the benefit of students and staff, and also for the local communities and the sector more generally.

The third benefit is the professional development of our staff. I think the endorsement process focuses quite rightly on the students but I think it has an equally important benefit for staff who work in universities, and with our industry partners as well. It has encouraged us to accelerate plans to support staff CPD as well as ensuring that colleagues who work with students are supported as much as possible to enrich the student experience."

Q3. How is Edge Hill University using CIMSPA endorsement to recruit students and enhance graduate success?

“The endorsement process has been an excellent platform to develop our strategic plans for our provision of sport management, sports coaching and sport, physical activity and mental health. Prospective students are already beginning to enquire and ask about the CIMSPA endorsement of our undergraduate and postgraduate courses at our various recruitment events.We explain how the CIMSPA endorsement has been central to the work we have been doing over the past eight years.We also explain how this has increased student employment and provided students with an excellent nationally recognised teaching and learning experience.

Our current students have already noticed how being associated with CIMSPA has been recognised very positively from prospective employers. That can only really bode well for future generations of graduates."

Q4. How do you think a CIMSPA regulated sector will help your University to increase employability of students?

“The CIMSPA professional standards and increasing profile of CIMSPA’s work in the sector will certainly help bring further strategic clarity and regulated collaboration to activities intended to improve graduate employability and the professional development of students. The fact that the professional standards and endorsement mapping process is relatively new, but has already caught the attention of many industry organisations, is key to the sector's development.

I think CIMSPA’s role in the sector will also help us provide well qualified and experienced graduates who are equipped to meet the local, national and global challenges we are facing in an increasingly uncertain world.

It helps us and the sector to meet the needs of the workforce which Sport England and others have demonstrated is changing rapidly. As these new markets emerge, graduates require different skill sets and experiences and CIMSPA will be critical in helping us to meet these demands."

Q5. How do you think a CIMSPA regulated sector will improve your University's reputation?

“The University has made great strides in supporting students to not only become employed post graduation, but significantly to become employed in graduate level jobs in the sport and physical activity sector within six months.

The work of CIMSPA has helped to improve the University's reputation for ensuring students are work-ready upon graduation, which is reflected in the increasing proportions of students who enter graduate employment having completed their studies. Last year, 72% of our students were in graduate level roles operating in the sector within six months and we anticipate further improvements this year. Collectively, this represents the value of providing students with the skills desired by employers which is communicated and understood through CIMSPA’s professional standards, and which supports our concern with providing a high quality teaching and learning experience for students."

Q6. How do you think a CIMSPA regulated sector will help the university to attract a higher calibre of applicants?

“As mentioned, our employment rates post graduation is indicative of our concern with providing students with the skills and knowledge required to get them into sector employment. This and the CIMSPA endorsement has already improved applications to study at Edge Hill University with very positive feedback from students, parents and external partners.

Endorsed courses have already seen improved application rates for next year in what is a highly competitive market place. Despite the economic downturn, sport and physical activity is still a big recruiter for the young adult population. Our association with CIMSPA has helped to encourage more young adults into higher education before they enter the sector’s workforce. We are keen to build on this success and grow the number of applicants that come to study with us in anticipation of working in graduate jobs in the sector and beyond, locally and nationally. We are committed to attracting the highest calibre of applicants as possible without losing sight of our reputation as an inclusive university that is committed to welcoming students from all backgrounds."

Q7. What would you say to Higher Education Institutes that are considering a CIMSPA partnership but are currently undecided?

“I would say go for it!

The endorsement mapping does involve several processes you need to go through, but it is a rigorous and supportive one in which we have benefited greatly from working with the panel. But as with all aspects of CIMSPA’s work and the professionals standards, the thoroughness of the endorsement process reflects CIMSPA’s desire to achieve the highest possible quality standards for the benefit of the sector.

Throughout the endorsement we had nothing but support, attention and collegiality from Helen (Education Officer for Higher Education at CIMSPA) and Colin (Head of Education at CIMSPA), their colleagues and others involved in the process. They've acted as critical friends and are people who you can trust to give you clear insight into where you're at, where you need to be and how to get there.

It's not just another bureaucratic burden or administrative exercise. It's really the start of what is a beneficial and hopefully long-term partnership which has multiple benefits for students, staff and the sector.

So, my advice is definitely to get involved. See how your degrees can align with the professional standards available, and then pass on the benefits to your own institution."

Q8. Do you have any comments you would like to add?

“It’s very encouraging to see CIMSPA leading the sector in its work and especially through the development of professional standards. This work really helps to focus the attention of colleagues in higher education institutes on the quality of the learning and teaching students experience. This extends to how research is used to inform the sector and how as a university we can operate as a business by participating in knowledge exchange. This is critical to supporting the next generation of graduates who will need to meet the needs of local communities and others throughout the UK and beyond.”

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