Graduate attributes


Graduate attributes1 provide a common language to explore and reflect on the skills developed through learning at the University of the Highlands and Islands. After an extensive consultation with staff, students and employers, five new graduate attributes were formally adopted in 2018.

The infographic summarises the development timeline, the key findings from the consultation process and suggested next steps for 2019.

Five attributes

The five attributes are:

  • academic skills
  • self-management
  • social awareness
  • communication
  • interpersonal skills

Spotlighting skills

Using graduate attributes can help shine a spotlight on the sometimes hidden skills developed through learning and participating in the life of the university:

“The reason for me to attend the University is to gain all the listed attributes (...) It is also to gain the experience I'm needing for my future career.” (Consultation exercise - student)

Celebrating distinctiveness

These attributes are intentionally broad, designed to accommodate diverse subject areas, levels of the curriculum, academic partners and employers. Rather than presenting a definitive list of attributes, students and staff are encouraged to reflect on these five attributes and to contextualise them to their own circumstances. The 'zooming in on graduate attributes' provides some current examples of the five graduate attributes in practice which have shared so far.


The graduate attributes are, by their nature aspirational, it is not expected that all students will develop all attributes.

[1] “Graduate attributes can be defined as being: 'the skills, knowledge and abilities of university graduates, beyond disciplinary content knowledge, which are applicable to a range of contexts”.  Barrie, S. C. (2004) A research-based approach to generic graduate attributes policy Higher Education Research & Development 23(3), 261-75

graduate attributes infographic

Visit the below webpage to see stories from colleagues who are working creatively with the graduate attributes and how you can get involved: