What do our potential students want and need?

What do our potential students want and need?

We need to focus not only on what we think is good economics, but also on what we are preparing our students for. There is a big opportunity here! Major employers are dissatisfied with current economics graduates, and we should be planning to improve that situation. It would help in attracting good students, and also in motivating them. Key to this are critical thinking (as many have said in this forum), and also an ability to relate to the real world.


For more on this, and more generally on my views about how the economics curriculum should be reformed, see https://bit.ly/2GfUjvD.

A few years ago, major employers including the Treasury and the Bank of England called for initiatives to improve economics teaching. They were asking for better connection with the real world, including familiarity with economic history; ability to handle data, and knowledge of data sources; ability to synthesise evidence, and more broadly an emphasis on the application of economics. This evidence-based orientation would fit well in a heterodox course that emphasised critical thinking.

I realise that many participants in this initiative may not feel that the Bank or the Treasury are natural bedfellows. But we live in the real world - and in particular, so do our students. Some people in that world are actually quite well disposed to a lot of our ideas, e.g. Andy Haldane. Is it crazy to suggest liaising with them?

I agree wholeheartedly. In addition to critical thinking skills and an ability to relate to the real world, I would also emphasize that future employers also cite the importance of communications skills, both written and oral. Not only do students have to understand the variety of economic thinking, but also they need to be able to convey these ideas clearly.

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