Citizens for an unknown future: Developing generic skills and capabilities in the Gulf context

Michelle McLean


Over the past 20 years or so, there has been a growing demand for Higher Education to more closely meet economic needs and employer requirements. HE in the UK and Australia, for example, has responded by identifying generic skills (UK) or generic graduate attributes (Australia) that are considered to improve students’ learning, develop their employability skills and prepare them for life-long learning. The Bologna agreement has also identified skills that graduates will require as future European Union citizens. These skills have also been called ‘key’, ‘core’ or ‘transferable’ skills and are “the skills, knowledge and abilities of university graduates, beyond disciplinary content knowledge which are applicable in a range of contexts” (Barrie, 2007). This paper discusses our current understanding of generic skills in Higher Education, including the Gulf, and presents research findings from the literature and from a three-year study of incoming medical students conducted at the United Arab Emirates University.

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