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Report – Graduate tracking policies and practices in EU and EEA

Beadle, S. et al (2020) Mapping the state of graduate tracking policies and practices in the EU Member States and EEA countries, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

This study, written by ICF in association with 3s Unternehmansberatung and CHEPS, maps the system-level approaches to graduate tracking in higher education and vocational education and training, across the European Union and the European Economic Area, and takes stock of progress towards achieving the requirements of the Council Recommendation on tracking graduates.

The mapping and description of system-level approaches to graduate tracking countries was based on desk research and semi-structured interviews. A total of 95 interviews were conducted with ministry officials, project managers, researchers and statisticians. In addition, data from higher education institutions (HEIs) on graduate tracking was collected using an online survey (open to all HEIs in the covered regions, between November 2019 – January 2020). A total of 615 valid survey responses was received, estimated to represent about a third (34%) of all HEIs within scope for the study and about half (50%) of the ensuing graduates.

The following are amongst the key findings:

  • About two thirds of the countries have system-level graduate tracking in higher education and VET. The remainder will have to make considerable improvements if they were to establish system level graduate tracking in the next five years.
  • The countries where graduate tracking is a legal obligation tend to have well established tracking systems. However, a legal basis is not a necessary condition for regular graduate tracking.
  • The responsibility for graduate tracking generally lies with the national or regional authorities which oversee higher education or VET policies.
  • Ongoing reforms indicate an increasing use of administrative data and a combination of administrative data and surveys.
  • The involvement and cooperation of key bodies, including those in charge of the policies and those holding the data and the methodological expertise, are key to successful tracking.

A benchmarking of national graduate tracking measures shows that the most significant areas for improvement are: the coverage of the whole graduate population in both vocational education and training and in higher education; the inclusion of all (including cross-border) graduates and drop-outs; and having a longitudinal approach to tracking.

The HEIs survey results show that graduate tracking is generally well-embedded in HEIs across EU and EEA countries.