Graduate tracking – a 'how to do it well' guide
Original language: Hungarian
The Commission’s New Skills Agenda for Europe (2016) emphasised the need for countries to have a ‘better understanding of the performance of graduates’. To achieve this, the Commission proposed a new initiative on: ‘graduate tracking to improve information on how graduates progress in the labour market’. The Council Recommendation on tracking graduates (2017) was subsequently issued. It proposed “making progress by 2020 on the establishment of graduate tracking systems” and set out how they should be implemented. The Recommendation acknowledges that initiatives and systems for collecting information about leavers of higher and vocational education and training could benefit from improvement and standardisation. The ability to track graduates is also considered a core component of effective Quality Assurance systems as it provides a mechanism for gathering intelligence on skills utilisation in the labour market and placement rates. This is recommended in both the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG), the European Quality Assurance Framework for Vocational Education and Training (EQAVET) and reinforced by the European Framework for Quality and Effective Apprenticeships.
The 'how to do it well' guide aims to support country officials in government and other agencies at national and regional levels with responsibilities for developing, implementing and maintaining graduate tracking measures in whole or part.
For those who are developing or revising their approach the whole guide may be of value. For those who have established systems, the guide can be read as a stimulus to considering improvement or dipped into to provide guidance on a specific aspect of the process to develop or strengthen their measures for tracking their graduates.
It also provides practical advice and lessons to support national and regional governments to achieve high standards in undertaking graduate tracking and to support countries to achieve the Council Recommendation on graduate tracking measures.
There are four basic steps - from preparation through to designing, implementation and dissemination - presented in this guide on how to build up the graduate tracking mechanism.
- Preparing to conduct graduate tracking, which includes establishing its key purposes and use, determining which methods to use, identifying which data sources to use, accessing resources, setting realistic timescales and conducting meaningful consultation
- Designing graduate tracking mechanisms, which includes ensuring effective coverage of programmes/fields of study, how regularly data should be collected, what information is required for specific purposes and how to respect data protection rules
- Implementing specific methods for conducting graduate tracking, including approaches to achieving high response rates for surveys, how to combine/merge/link administrative databases and effective approaches for bringing together data from administrative records and survey responses
- Disseminating and making effective use of data from graduate tracking mechanisms, including effective practice in presenting information and making it available and approaches to using graduate tracking data in feedback loops to improve the quality of education and training
Readers can find information on the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches and lessons from the experiences of individual countries. It does not set out a prescriptive set of requirements for conducting graduate tracking, as it recognises that the approaches country officials wish to use will depend on the national or regional context.
The guide draws on a desk review of existing research examining effective approaches for conducting elements of graduate tracking and of existing guidance material; a desk research supplemented by interviews with country officials to map the graduate tracking systems in place in all EEA countries; and consultation with the Expert Group for graduate tracking convened by the European Commission.
The full guide can be downloaded here.