The Role of Graduate Attributes in Higher Education. A Review of the Issues Associated with Graduate Attributes and the case for their Measurement

Dominic Mahon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
152 Downloads (Pure)


This literature review considers the role graduate attributes have to play in contemporary higher education (HE). Considering academic literature and reports from government and industry, it argues that there is currently a crisis in HE whereby the financial benefits of having a degree are overwhelmed by the financial burden of obtaining one. This crisis has its roots in the growing trend to perceive the value of HE as the means to the end of employment rather than as an end in itself.

Graduate attributes (the skills and competencies students are supposed to acquire over the course of their studies) have the potential to promote HE as an end in itself. However, in their current form they typically do not have strong theoretical foundations and are too heavily subject to the influence of industry. Furthermore, despite explicit claims that graduates display these characteristics, institutions do not normally measure the attainment of graduate attributes. For graduate attributes to become more useful and relevant, these issues need to be resolved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-369
Number of pages17
Issue number3-4
Early online date23 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

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  • Graduate attributes
  • Student development
  • Higher education crisis
  • Purpose of higher education


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