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Employability in online higher education: A case study

  • Ana Paula Silva
  • Pedro Lourtie Instituto Superior Técnico, Technical University of Lisbon (Portugal).
  • Luisa Aires Universidade Aberta (Portugal)
Keywords: Online Higher Education, Employment, Qualifications, Lifelong Learning


Over the past 15 years, learning in distance education universities has become more interactive, flexible, collaborative, and participative. Nevertheless, some accounts have highlighted the importance of developing more instrumental and standardized educational practices to answer the challenges of employability. In fact, the choice of skills that are important to learning communities and the labour market has been the subject of controversy because it involves heterogeneous motives among different groups.

This paper compares the perceptions of employability skills in a sample of teachers from the Universidade Aberta and a sample of students who attend a local learning centre at this University. The research focused on the following dimensions: a) the most important employability skills, and b) the employability skills to be developed in online undergraduate degrees. To collect the required data, a questionnaire was prepared and applied to students and teachers, taking the theoretical model of Knight and Yorke (2006) as its main reference. In spite of the specificity of each group, the results revealed some similarities between students and teachers with regard to employability. The conclusions also highlighted the need to promote research on this matter in online education.

Author Biographies

Ana Paula Silva
Master on Policies for Higher Education Management, University of Aveiro (Portugal)
Pedro Lourtie, Instituto Superior Técnico, Technical University of Lisbon (Portugal).

- Associate Professor at the Instituto Superior Técnico, Technical University of Lisbon.

-  President of the diplomatic mission for the approval of the Lisbon Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications (1997)

- General-Director of Higher Education between 1996 and 2000

-   Secretary of State for Higher Education in 2001-2002

- President of the Education Committee of the UE Council during the Portuguese Presidency (2000

- The Portuguese representative in the Bologna Follow Up Group between 2005 and 2006.

Luisa Aires, Universidade Aberta (Portugal)
Graduation, Master and PhD in Educational Sciences. Distance Education and Teachind Department, Universidade Aberta (Portugal)
How to Cite
Silva, A. P., Lourtie, P., & Aires, L. (2013). Employability in online higher education: A case study. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 14(1), 106-125.
Research Articles