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Why are there two types of Degree Plus and what are they?

At Queen’s, we refer to the two types of Degree Plus award using the terms ‘Provider Verified’ (formerly Route A) and ‘Combined Experience’ (formerly Route B) – but what do these terms mean and what is the difference? Eimear Gallagher, who leads the Degree Plus team at Queen’s, is here with this quick explainer. 

Eimear Gallagher, Business Operations Manager and head of Degree Plus at Queen’s

A Provider Verified activity means a third party automatically recommends you for the award

The most straightforward route to gaining your Degree Plus award is through the Provider Verified route. This is where you complete a significant extracurricular activity from the approved list, for example, a Careers service development programme, SU Handy Helpers, an inspiring leaders programme or certain Language Centre programmes.

See the full Provider verified list here

You don’t need to apply for Degree Plus via the Provider Verified route

The activities listed on the Provider Verified menu offer the opportunity to gain significant experience over several days, or months. In this case, the approved provider advertises organises and assesses the activity. The provider then submits a pass list to the Degree Plus team so we can update your QSIS record and arrange your Degree Plus certificate ahead of graduation. You do not need to do anything else once you have successfully completed the programme.

Why do you not need to apply for Provider Verified Degree Plus?

The activities on the Provider Verified menu have already been vetted by our Degree Plus team as being significantly challenging, so they are ‘pre-approved’ as being eligible for the award

A key part of Degree Plus is reflecting on the skills you have developed during a programme or activity. When you complete a Provider Verified activity, that reflection is embedded in the activity.

“Degree Plus is about developing your skills, experiential development and networking. If completed in full, a Provided Verified activity will include some form of articulating back to the provider what you have gained,” explains Eimear Gallagher who heads up the Degree Plus programme at Queen’s. 

This means as part of the programme or activity, you will be asked to evaluate what you have gained through an assessment exercise. This might be a presentation, interview or application form set by the provider asking you to reflect on which of the Degree Plus skills you have developed and how.

Once you complete and pass the provider’s assessment exercise, your name will be added to a pass list and sent to the Degree Plus team to update your student record. You can complete as many Degree Plus Provider verified activities as you like. You will receive one certificate at graduation with the activities listed.

See the full list of Degree Plus skills

Combined Experience means you have to self-nominate yourself for the award

The Combined Activity route offers the opportunity to complete two or more small activities and complete an application form. The two activities should be from the approved menu and must demonstrate different Degree Plus skills. For example, you might complete the form using your part-time job and your volunteering experience as your two activities, but in your application form, you must demonstrate that you gained different skills during each experience.

Combined Experience menu activities include membership of a club or society, employer challenges and insight programmes and volunteering opportunities. “It could be a part-time job in Tesco or your local supermarket and a six-week language course,” says Eimear. “Work experience doesn’t have to be a placement with a graduate employer. It could be volunteering in the community in your home town, participating in a sport or Red Cross volunteering.”

You only need to apply for Degree Plus Combined Experience once. You will receive one certificate at graduation with ‘Combined Experience’ detailed on the parchment.

See the Combined Experience Menu

What should I write on the application form?

“The application form gives you the opportunity to practice articulating your experience on a form,” says Eimear. This practice will come in handy when you come to apply for jobs. 

You will also need to evidence the activities. 

“Evidence could be a payslip, an email from a voluntary group saying you have engaged in a certain amount of volunteering over a set number of weeks, or an email from an SU clubs or society confirming your involvement,” says Eimear. 

Degree Plus is about actively engaging in activities, not passively turning up. In your application form, you need to demonstrate to the Degree Plus panel what you contributed and what you got out of it – keeping theDegree Plus skills at the forefront of your mind.  

When do I need to apply for Combined Activity?

There are two chances to apply each year: the winter deadline is midnight on November 1 and the summer deadline is midnight on April 1.

While these deadlines are set to enable those graduating in winter and summer to achieve the award in time for their graduation ceremony, students in pre-final year can apply by these deadlines in order to bank the award early. In that case, it will remain on your student record and you will receive your Degree Plus certificate at graduation. 

“If you are first or second year, you could use either of those windows to upload your application now and we will assess it,” says Eimear. “If you don’t meet it the first time, we will give you feedback, and you will have a second opportunity to re submit.”

If you missed our recent Degree Plus intro session, you can rewatch it here:

https://www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/sgc/careers/careers-events/pastevents/

Eimear Gallagher is the Business Operations Manager at Queen’s Careers, Employability and Skills To contact the Degree Plus team, email degreeplus@qub.ac.uk

To find out more about Degree Plus, visit GO.QUB.AC.UK/DEGREEPLUS

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Why do employers value Degree Plus?

When it comes to articulating the skills you have developed during your time at Queen’s, Degree Plus is a great tool to have in your armour. Here is why.

Degree Plus is supported by employers 

“Employers like EY and Nicva are putting their name to the award – that is an indication of the level of interest and support employers have in students who complete this award,” says Eimear Gallagher, Business Operations Manager at Careers, Employability and Skills, who heads up Degree Plus.

 It quantifies your soft skills

“Degree Plus develops your employability.  Even if an employer has never heard of the Degree Plus award, they will definitely be interested to see that you have completed a significant amount of extracurricular activity. It shows you have stepped up above and beyond your degree programme, and that you’ve managed your time effectively and balanced it with your studies,” says Eimear.

She adds: “The fact that you can present the validation of those activities in the form of a certificate helps to give employers security that everything you are saying you can back up and evidence through both your degree and your Degree Plus certificate.

It shows initiative

“Degree Plus is an indicator of initiative.,” says Eimear. “Degree Plus is not compulsory – it shows you chose to set up and accept the challenge of exploring a new interest.”

It allows you to practice articulating your skills 

Both routes to Degree Plus involve an element of self-reflection during which you will be asked to analyse which of the Degree Plus skills you have developed and how. 

With the Provider Verified route, this might involve a presentation or form at the end of the programme. For Combined Experience, you will be asked to complete an application form to evidence the skills you have gained during two extracurricular activities. 

Either way, this self-reflective element forms a key part of the award. 

“We want you to learn and gain practice in articulating the skills that you are gaining from Degree Plus and the extracurricular activities you have been involved in so you can convey those with impact in an interview situation,” says Eimear. “To be able to articulate these things and how they’ve helped you; how your employability has developed through them – that’s an important skill in itself.”

Eimear Gallagher is the Business Operations Manager at Queen’s Careers, Employability and Skills.

To contact the Degree Plus team, email degreeplus@qub.ac.uk

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Degree Plus Five-Minute Explainer

Whether you are graduating this year or just want to bank the award early, Eimear Gallagher, who heads up Queen’ s employability programme, is here to answer all your burning questions.

What is Degree Plus?

“Degree Plus is about encouraging you to get involved in extracurricular activities in and around Queen’s, but also to give you the opportunity to get a reward for that; to get an accreditation from the University and have it recorded on your Queen’s QSIS record,” says Eimear.

She adds: “At graduation, in addition to your Queen’s parchment confirming your degree, you also get a Degree Plus certificate. That is confirmation from the University that you completed an activity or activities and it will name the specific activities you have undertaken as well.”

What counts towards Degree Plus?

“There are a large number of activities to choose from, the last count was over 180. There are two different routes – Provider Verified and Combined Experience,” says Eimear. 

View the Provider Verified menu

View the Combined Experience menu

Provider Verified is the most common and straightforward route – around 2,000 students each year gain the award this way.

Combined Experience offer an opportunity to put yourself forward for the award -around 300 students gain the award this way each year. 

Learn more about the two types of Degree Plus here

Who can apply for Degree Plus?

It’s open to all students, both postgraduate and undergraduate, and you’ll get a Degree Plus, Graduate Plus or Researcher Plus certificate at graduation, depending on your study level. 

For enquiries about Graduate and Researcher Plus, please contact The Graduate School.

“There is no compulsion to do it,” says Eimear. “It’s for people who want to differentiate themselves and to stand out from the crowd; stand out from others with whom you’d be competing in graduate labour markets.”

Eimear Gallagher is the Business Operations Manager at Queen’s Careers, Employability and Skills. To contact the Degree Plus team, email degreeplus@qub.ac.uk