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Computing, Creative Technologies & Engineering Good News

The latest Good News from the School of Computing, Creative Technologies & Engineering.

The computing show

Leeds Beckett University Secures £360k EU Funding to improve employability of autistic graduates

Dr Marc Fabri, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Computing, Creative Technologies & Engineering will lead a multi-national Strategic Partnership to Improve Autistic Graduates’ Employability (IMAGE) across Europe. The project will run from October 2018 until August 2021. This funding is made available under Erasmus+Key Action 2, Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education.

The IMAGE project involves partners from 5 European countries: Leeds Beckett University, Free University Amsterdam, University of Helsinki, Medical School Berlin and the University of Toulouse.

Collaborators within Leeds Beckett University are researchers Dr Lisa Harkry and Dr Roz Wyatt-Willington, as well as Claire Aydogan, Head of Student and Graduate Futures.

Project Background

The prevalence of autism is approximately 1% of the population and autistic young people are entering Higher Education at an increasing and unprecedented rate. These individuals are academically competent and might achieve better than their non-autistic peers.

Unfortunately, at the end of their studies a large proportion of autistic graduates are left without employment. We knew this from our previous project, Autism & Uni, where autistic students repeatedly talked about their anxiety of finding employment after their studies.

European HE systems currently fail this student group, and autistic graduates enter a fast-growing pool of untapped economic potential, preventing personal fulfilment and creating long-term costs to society.

The reasons are multifold:

  • Careers advice provided by HE institutions is often ineffective for autistic students;
  • Academic tutors lack understanding of how best to support autistic students develop employability skills or gain work experience;
  • Recruitment procedures create barriers;
  • Employers are unsure how to support autistic graduates in the job.

This is despite the many qualities that can make autistic people desirable employees, e.g. attention to detail, honesty, loyalty, working longer hours and punctuality.

Project Objectives

The IMAGE Strategic Partnership addresses this employment gap by focussing on the transition from higher education into the world of work, and the support universities can provide during this transition. The IMAGE project will benefit from the experience and networks built during Autism&Uni and offer a valuable opportunity to reduce the high levels of unemployment in the autism population. The project objectives are:

July/August/September 2018

  • To create an employability toolkit for autistic students so that they can develop their employability skills and better understand career goals;
  • To develop new training materials for HE careers advisors so that they can better support autistic students, and provide training to400 advisors across the partner countries;
  • To share examples of good support practice with academics, HE senior managers and policy makers and thereby make HE sector more inclusive;
  • To make employers better recognise the strengths and benefits of qualified autistic employees, and reduce disabling barriers to recruitment and employment.

Methodology and Outputs

The project will use a participatory design methodology, involving the target groups in the conception and design of all outputs. During the co-research and co-design activities, autistic students, careers advisors, academics and employerswill participate.

The IMAGE project will produce an employability toolkit that autistic students can use independently, training materials for careers advisors to develop their skills and professional practice, and a set of good practice guides for professionals and employers to raise awareness of autism and become more autism-friendly. It is very likely that project outputs will benefit other disadvantaged student groups too, including students with other disabilities.

Impact: All outputs will be tested and evaluated during the project, and made freely available to the HE community and employers at the end of the project. The long-term impact will be greater autism awareness amongst professionals, more inclusive HE institutions and procedures, better skilled autistic graduates, and ultimately more autistic graduates in employment.

Marc Fabri joins Editorial Board of Autism in Adulthood Journal:

Autism in Adulthood is a new international journal for research on the issues affecting adults on the autism spectrum, from emerging adulthood to later life. Marc was invited to the editorial board due to his expertise in technology for autism and the support of autistic university students. for full journal profile.

The Outlaw Project

The School of Computing, Creative Technologies & Engineering Digital Journalism lecturer Peter Defty has recently been the subject of an article by the Ilford Photo Magazine & Website. Peter is a successful commercial photographer with an interest in experimental photography outside his work here. He has been engaged in an exciting project with a very large format camera that is capturing national attention (see article). Peter discovered and refurbished the camera and his ‘Outlaw Project’ sees portraits captured in a 14” x 17” format. This project maps well with Peter’s teaching at Leeds Beckett, where he oversees students to build their own cameras from unusual objects as part of the elective module ‘Technology of Cameras’, which he leads. This work, and Leeds Beckett, gets a mention in the article. See for details.

A New Book on ‘Big Data Analytics’ edited by Prof Hissam Tawfik

A new Book on ‘Applications of Big Data Analytics ’edited by Hissam Tawfik and a team of international experts of Big Data applications, has recently been published by ‘Springer’, for more details please visit the following ‘Springer’ website link:

Degree Apprenticeships

The undergraduate degree apprenticeship course, BSc (Hons) Digital & Technology Solutions is now firmly established as part of the portfolio of the School of Computing Creative Technologies & Engineering. The course full under the remit of Jackie Campbell as course director for Computing & Business IT. The course leader is Maurice Calvert.

Students attend for up to 12 days per year. For the rest of their study they are supported by distance learning with weekly online teaching sessions and other support through MyBeckett, email and phone. Their study blocks are in September and January and the third cohort started on 17 September. With another cohort anticipated in January 2019, the course will be too large to fit into Welcome Week, so the September study block next year will be the week before.

Increased students numbers will also mean increased staff involvement. From just Margaret Chawawa and Duncan Mullier teaching the first cohort, 10 staff have been directly involved, so far. There is a commitment to make regular visits to students in their workplaces. Again, this will require extra staff input as numbers grow.

These students should gain a debt-free degree. Fees are funded from the apprenticeship levy for levy paying organisations. Non-levy paying organisations can claim 90% of students fees from the ESFA, making up the final 10% from their training budget. After 4 years of study, students will have at least 4 years of work experience. They will also have a degree fully funded by their employer.

Currently, we have students from Agora Business Publications LLP, ASDA, Hermes, IT Retail Systems Ltd, Leeds City Council, NDL, Next, North Yorkshire County Council, Redev (Leeds), Saria, Target Information Systems (Barnsley), University of York, Vocalink– Mastercard,YBS (Yorkshire Building Society).

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