Higher Education and the Debate on Key/Generic Skills


  • Dr. Yadollah Mehralizadeh University of Shahid Chamran Ahvaz
  • Dr. Ebrahim Salehi Mazandaran University
  • Dr. Sid Mansur Marashi University of Shahid Chamran Ahvaz




This article addresses current questions about the importance of key/generic skills in higher education, based on a Meta-evaluation methodology. It is argued that key skills are a matter of debate among educators and other researchers in the neo- and post-Ford economy. The article also analyzes questions that relate to the rationality of key/generic skills, such as whether these skills are occupationally or professionally specific, whether they are professionally or organizationally specific, and how they can be transferred or taught in higher education. The authors’ findings reveal that, first, key skills are specific to particular social domains and, second, there are strategies in line with Bridges’s distinction of transferable and transferring skills that can be employed to transfer key skills. Also with regard to key/generic skills, the authors assert that there are ranges of preparatory work to be done in higher education or other educational institutions and that fluency can only be achieved through practice in specific contexts. The limitation of these findings is that there remains a high degree of indeterminacy because the “generic” elements that are taught in higher education must still be applied in a wide range of different contexts.