London Connection Q&A: Dr Keith Sharp
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Could you provide a brief overview of the EMFSS suite of programmes?
The EMFSS suite of programmes are a number of undergraduate degrees and Diplomas for Graduates broadly in the areas of Economics, Management, Finance and Social Sciences. We cover subjects like Banking and Finance, Accounting and Finance, Management, Business, but also some of the more traditional social science areas like International Relations, Politics and International Relations, and Sociology.
Could you say something about how these programmes focus on real world issues and their relevance in today's world?
I think a defining feature of the LSE’s approach is always to focus on how social science disciplines are relevant to the real world. Our programmes very much focus on real examples, so if you’re studying economics you’ll look at real-life economic problems and issues in the world, as well as the theory that underpins it. And the same is true across the range of programmes. Our focus is very much the application of theory to real-life, here and now, problems.
What type of careers do these degrees lead to?
Careers really depend on the programme you do. So students who study Accounting and Finance will very often go into the accounting profession. That degree, for example, has a number of exemptions from professional bodies, and so students very often will then want to go on and qualify as an accountant either in the UK or elsewhere in the world. So sometimes students go into very specific vocational areas such as accounting, banking, finance. But really our students go into a much wider range of occupations than that. People will work in various fields associated with management, business – in a very broad sense – but sometimes they will go and do something completely different. They will apply their knowledge to a completely new field and find that the degree which they’ve done is relevant to that as well.
"The quality of the programme really is derived from the fact the curriculum is developed by academics here within the LSE"
Which bodies offer professional accreditation?
We have recognition from a number of Accounting bodies who will award credits for students who have studied, for example, our Accounting degrees. This would include ACCA, CEMA, CPA Australia and ICPAS as important routes for students to take if they’ve taken those degrees. They will gain exemptions from a large body of the courses they would otherwise have to take if they hadn’t undertaken a degree programme such as ours.
Which universities worldwide do graduates go on to study at?
We certainly have a track record of students from the International Programmes coming here to the LSE itself to study Masters programmes. They’ve gone to other top universities in the UK, top universities in the United States, Canada, Australia or in other countries where the programme is offered. In India, for example, we have graduates going on to the University of Delhi, the University of Mumbai, the University of Calcutta, and so forth. So we have a good track record of students moving on to postgraduate study in most of the world’s top universities.
How can you be confident about the quality of these programmes?
The quality of the programme really is derived from the fact the curriculum is developed by academics here within the LSE. These are the same people who are teaching internal students – they’re writing the curriculum, preparing the study guides, setting the examinations and, importantly, marking the examinations for students of the International Programmes.
"What we’re trying to produce with our students is critical thinking, the ability to analyse and solve problems, and the ability to communicate to a wide range of audiences"
What kind of transferable skills do students develop by studying these programmes?
Clearly, students develop a number of subject-specific skills. So they’ll develop the particular skills and competencies and knowledge within their own disciplines. But I think, above all, what we’re trying to produce with our students is critical thinking, the ability to analyse and solve problems, and the ability to communicate to a wide range of audiences. To really be an independent critical thinker. And these are things that one can apply in whatever field of work one ends up in. It’s something that will hopefully stay with the student throughout their lifetime and stand them in good stead for wherever they end up.
What entry points are there for those who already have degrees?
For the Standard Route of the degree the student will take 12 courses. If they’re studying full time this will typically be over three years – so it would be four courses a year. When a student already has a degree it’s possible for them to take the Graduate Entry Route, and the Graduate Entry Route allows them to essentially claim some exemptions against some of the courses. So, typically, a student undertaking another degree who already holds a degree would take only 9 courses, and they would be given credit for up to three courses on the basis of the learning that they’ve already undertaken during their first degree.
What kind of online support do students get?
We have a Virtual Learning Environment which contains quite a lot of material from lectures, seminars, interviews, demonstrations, which support the student’s learning and adds to the reading that the students are doing. And if they’re taking classes with a tuition provider, adds an additional layer of information to that. We also provide through the VLE student forums, so that students can communicate with each other. They can discuss topics and seek solutions to problems by discussing with their peers, that maybe it would be more difficult to do if they were studying alone.
"Around 80 per cent of our students choose to receive tuition at a local tuition provider somewhere around the world"
What opportunities are there to study the programmes full-time at independent teaching institutions?
Around 80 per cent of our students choose to receive tuition at a local tuition provider somewhere around the world. We have a number of recognised centres, which are either Registered Centres or Affiliate Centres of the University of London, that have both demonstrated a track record of achievement – students doing well who’ve studied there and also a high level of quality in terms of the facilities, the teaching staff, and the support that will be given to students.
Are there any future developments that you can share with us?
We are constantly developing and updating our materials. We are adding to the VLE and we’re rewriting study guides to make sure they are continually up to date. One of the most exciting developments is the proposed launch of our new foundation programme from 2013. This will allow students who don’t yet meet the entry criteria to come on to the degree programme – to take the foundation programme through a local tuition provider. This course has been designed specifically to equip the students with the skills and knowledge that they’ll need to succeed on our undergraduate programmes.