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August 11, 2012

Free Essay on Human and Social Development of University Students


The success or failure of graduates in practical life reflects individual and collective characteristics categorized as their human capital, social capital and self-efficacy for which universities may be held responsible.  Human capital is a key factor of production which increases the employability in the job market (Son, 2010) as it is the reflection of cognitive ability of individuals that helps them understand and implement technologies in job  activities (Hanushek & Kimko, 2000) and results in greater competitiveness and performance of employees and employers (Agarwala, 2003: Marimuthu, Arokiasamy, & Ismail, 2009).
It may be taken as the knowledge, and other attributes of individuals that enhance their productivity and earnings (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development 1998; Schuller, 2000; Son, 2010) that ultimately causes growth of productivity and wealth of the society (Schuller, 2000; Son, 2010) in terms of GDP (Son, 2010). This potential for growth and survival (Manolova et al., 2002) could be generated through education, training and other professional initiatives.
Garavan et al. (2001) summarized human capital attributes as creation of individual flexibility and adoptability; enhancement of individual competencies; increasing individual employability; and causing organizational survival. It focuses on individual agent; measures schooling duration and qualifications; provides productivity, income, health and civic activity as its outcomes; and models linear representation (Schuller, 2000). 
After the description of human capital, now comes social capital. Social capital as introduced by Hanifan (1916) to explain the importance of community participation in enhancing school performance means “shared norms or values that promote social cooperation” (p. 29) between two or more individuals for common ends (Fukuyama, 2002).  The author reported that the concept of social capital could not get much popularity and vanished from the scene. However, it reentered the social science glossary in the 1980s. Social capital is produced through professional education as its byproduct; religion, history and globalization; social rules and norms; public goods such as property rights and public safety; and private sector or civil society growth (Fukuyama, 2001; 2002).
It causes the realization of human capital’s potential through relationships between different groups as well as within groups (Schuller, 2000) by  reducing the transaction costs of  contracts through coordination among a group of people possessing no social capital (Fukuyama, 2001).
Social capital is a key element in both economic development and stable democracy (Fukuyama, 2002) as networks open doors for entrepreneurs by “providing market access, financing, distribution channels, referrals and a pool of contacts for both internal and external development” (Coviello 2006: 723). Adler and Kwon (2002) a positive impact of social capital on job search, career success, inter-unit resource exchange, entrepreneurship, supplier relations, regional production networks, and inter-company learning. It could also produce positive externalities in people through teaching of social virtues like honesty, reciprocity, and dependability (Fukuyama, 2002).
It focuses on relationships; measures attitudes/values, participation and trust levels; provides social  cohesion, economic achievements and more social capital as its outcomes; and models interactive/circular representation (Schuller, 2000).
The description of human and social capital establishes that these are actually the skills, demanded for entry in the job market and success on the job, to be acquired through university education which is considered to be the main source for acquiring such skills. Students, therefore, are taking university education as a way to job market (Lawrence & Sharma, 2002) and demand knowledge that meets world-wide job standards (Nagy, 2006).
Responding to this demand, universities are restructuring their processes accordingly (Sohail & Daud, 2006) as students are motivated to select only those universities which fulfill this demand (Song-Ae, 2005) and are developing and applying specific quality standards (LeBlanc &  Nguyen, 1997; Dinham, 2006) in teaching learning process (Seah & Edward, 2006) such as identified in Education Sector Reforms Action Plan 2001-2004(Government of Pakistan, 2001) in order to position their product in international markets (Seah & Edward, 2006).
Universities are under pressure to provide quality education (Mishra, Koehler, & Zhao, 2007) to meet the demand of stakeholders (Higgs, 2007). The quality of higher education characterized with the human and social capital of students, is being measured through their generic skills or “range of qualities and capacities” (Hager, Holland, & Backett, 2002:2) categorized as intellectual development skills, personal development skills, professional development skills, and social development skills (Raza, Majid, & Zia, 2010) necessary for getting jobs and causing societal growth. The development of human and social capital leads to the development of self-efficacy of the students which is described below.
Self-efficacy is the belief about potential to achieve desired outcomes (Bandura, 1994, 1997; Maddux & Gosselin, 2003). Maddux and Gosselin (2003) delimited self-efficacy as not competencies, skills and abilities; simply predictions about behavior; intentions to behave or attain desired goals; outcome expectations; perceived control; causal attributions; self-esteem; and traits to make the concept clearer.
Self-efficacy may be developed through four ways (Bandura, 1994; Luthans, Luthans, & Luthans, 2004) namely mastery experiences or performance attainment--- the success stories; vicarious experiences provided by social models---watching people with similar characteristics; Social persuasion---getting motivated; and physiological and psychological arousal---reducing stress reactions. The authors described self-efficacy as positive psychological capital that focuses on strengths rather than weaknesses, health and vitality rather than illness and pathology.
They established that traditional economic capital (what you have i.e. finances and other tangibles) generates human capital (what you know i.e. knowledge, skills, and experience) that leads to the development of social capital (who you know i.e. networks of contacts) which results in positive psychological capital (who you are i.e. confidence, hope, optimism). 
The university faculty, again is supposed to guide students apply these models to make them confident players and successful members of community as students in higher education institutions struggle to map their professional identities (Hamel & Ryken, 2010). They can play their role in developing human and social capital and self-efficacy of students which are attributes of students’ development (Luthans, Luthans, & Luthans, 2004; Coviello 2006; Son, 2010) necessary for economic and social development of the society (Devlina & Samarawickremab, 2010).  

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