The University of Groningen




The WEXHE project responds to the concerns expressed by stakeholders on the shortcomings in the labour market orientation of HE, focussing on the balance between practical and theoretical learning in HE and to mismatches between the skills sets of graduates and the skills they require during early careers.

Project summary

EU countries have experienced a substantial increase in graduate unemployment and a decrease of quality of their employment. European students and graduates report continuously that they are worried about their careers. At the same time employers and employers’ organisations report they are having increasing difficulties in finding graduates with matching skills.

In this Knowledge Alliance Integrating Entrepreneurship and Work Experience into Higher Education (WEXHE), enterprises, associations and universities – all having a leading role in networks covering the relationship between the world of work and higher education,- come together to identify and analyse current provision of work experience and entrepreneurship in HE in 7 different European countries, generating 54 case studies of good practice including all four types of study areas (hard-pure, e.g. natural sciences; soft-pure, e.g. humanities and social sciences; hard-applied, e.g. medicine and soft-applied, e.g. social work, covering internships/work placements, traineeships and entrepreneurships. Working with practitioners, it will create 9 replicable models for work experience and entrepreneurship, together with guidance on management, quality assurance, learning outcomes, funding and accreditation. These models will cover and support the 4 study areas and will be tailored to national contexts. There will be a special emphasis on the Humanities for which the transition to the labour market is least transparent and the number of students is considerable.

The project aims to:

  • increase the capacity (competences) of staff (in particular supervisors) in universities and enterprises to provide high quality work experience
    (placements/internships, traineeships) and entrepreneurship,
  • support the accreditation of all kinds of work experience through ECTS and effective quality assurance,
  • ensure that the skills needs of employers are understood.

The project will review existing policy development and support further policy development in this field.

This project is a follow-up to the project TEFCE – Towards a European Framework for Community Engagement in Higher Education , which developed a toolbox to support universities and policymakers in supporting community engagement. SHEFCE is continuing its predecessor’s work in supporting the community engagement of European universities. Within the framework of the project, community engagement is understood as university partnerships with external stakeholders to address societal challenges.