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Irish Journal of Education


This essay considers higher education policy in Ireland that, in limited optional ways, is diversifying the undergraduate curriculum to incorporate wider reading across disciplines. Such policies, now gaining traction, aim to foster greater graduate employability, understood as the resilience and resourcefulness to secure positions in the workplace over time, and in fluctuating periods of supply and demand; they also support graduates to live more meaningfully in society. This essay’s three sections draw upon several sources including a business consultancy website, journal articles, and academic papers and reports. It extrapolates in particular from the research of Julia Preece and Anne-Marie Houghton (2000) who have observed the benefits of higher education qualifications for those living in socially disadvantaged areas in Great Britain, where graduates did not necessarily find paid work or graduate positions. It also refers to the positive findings of researchers in the University of Notre Dame Australia regarding the measurability of graduate attributes in the arts and humanities. Finally, it makes a case for, specifically, literary readings (both fiction and nonfiction) to be introduced broadly across disciplinary curricula, especially in the technological sector of higher education in Ireland. It cites as a template the now long-standing presence of college-wide reading programmes, such as Common Book and the Novel Experience in American and Canadian universities.