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Graduate Tracer Studies at the Kassel Centre Harald Schomburg (Centre for Research on Higher Education and Work University Kassel) E-mai: The Kassel Graduate Survey

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graduate tracer studies at the kassel centre

Graduate Tracer Studiesat the Kassel Centre

Harald Schomburg

(Centre for Research on Higher Education and Work University Kassel)


Enders/Bornmann: Kassel Doctorate Study (Enders, Jürgen und Bornmann, Lutz (2001): Karriere mit Doktortitel? Frankfurt a.M.: Campus)

Maiworm/Teichler: HCM Evaluation Study (Maiworm, Friedhelm und Teichler, Ulrich: European Research Fellowships 1987-1993. The Experiences and Views of Fellows, Supervisors and Administrators. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities 1997)


Enders/Mugabushka: Kassel Postdoc Study (Enders, J and Mugabuska, A.-M. Wissenschaft und Karriere (Science and Career). Erfahrungen und Werdegänge ehemaliger Stipendiaten der DFG. Bonn: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft 2004. )


Over: Kassel Brain-Drain Study(Beate Backhaus, Lars Ninke, Albert Over: Brain Drain - Brain Gain. Eine Untersuchung über internationale Berufskarrieren. Bonn: Stifterverband für die deutsche Wissenschaft 2002)

international mobility of university graduates hochqualifizierte arbeitskr fte
International Mobility of University Graduates (hochqualifizierte Arbeitskräfte)
  • A project for the German Ministry of Research and Education (2000/2001)
  • Cooperation of Institut zur Zukunft der Arbeit (IZA), Infratest Burke Sozialforschung und Wissenschaftliches Zentrum für Berufs- und Hochschulforschung
  • Employer survey in France, Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, 530 companies
  • Secondary analysis of the CHEERS data
  • Secondary analysis of the Kassel Doctorates data
personal knowledge transfer
Personal Knowledge Transfer
  • 2003-2004
  • Center for Research on Higher education and Work
  • Teichler, Dunkel, Schomburg
  • Selected German University
  • Document analysis
  • Mailed questionnaires on mobility

Careers after Higher Education: a European Research Study

Higher Education and Graduate Employmentin Europe

the cheers study overview
The CHEERS Study - Overview
  • European Graduate SurveyA representative survey of about 40,000 persons
  • Interview surveys with graduates and employers (about 400 interviews)
  • Partner: 12 countries, 13 research institutions
  • Funded partly by the EU (TSER)
the cheers team researchers from 12 countries
The CHEERS Team – Researchers from 12 Countries

Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy

Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom

key design elements of the cheers graduate survey
Key Design Elements of the CHEERS Graduate Survey
  • Cross-sectional survey
  • Graduates of institutions of higher education of the academic year 1995
  • Conducted about three to four years after graduation
  • Field phase mainly 1999
  • At least 3-years-study programs
  • Only first degree (e.g. Bachelor, Diplom, Laurea)
  • About 3,000-3,500 graduates in each country
research instrument of the cheers study
Research Instrument of the CHEERS Study
  • Common research instrument: master questionnaire in English
    • Highly standardized
    • Few open questions
    • National adaptations of some questions (e.g. regarding the educational system)
    • Use of national and international classification (ISCED97, NACE, ISCO88(COM), NUTS
  • Broad scope of questions
    • 16 pages
    • 80 questions
    • 600 variables
  • Mailed questionnaire
    • Three mailing actions (questionnaire-reminder-reminder+questionnaire)
cheers data base 36 000 graduates from 12 countries
CHEERS Data Base: 36,000 Graduates from 12 Countries;

About 3,000 Graduates from each Country


aau tracer studies
AAU Tracer Studies
  • Financial support: Association of African Universities (AAU) ("Study Programme on Higher Education Management in Africa”) and partly by UNESCO
  • Field phase 1996/1997: More than 6.500 graduates questionnaires
  • Reports: published 2001-2002 by AAU
  • Only English speaking countries
  • East and West Africa
    • Ghana
    • Kenya (2 studies)
    • Malawi
    • Nigeria (4 studies)
    • Tanzania
    • Uganda
  • Highly standardised questionnaire
  • The same content in all studies
  • About 80 questions and 400 answers
  • In some studies additionally lecturers, students or employers were included
major topics
Major topics
  • Transition to employment (time to get the first job, methods of job search, etc)
  • Employment situation (sector, income, working time, etc)
  • Use of knowledge and skills
  • Work orientation and job satisfaction
  • Relationship between study and work
  • Study assessment
methods of tracing graduates
Methods of Tracing Graduates
  • University records
  • University Alumni Association
  • Employers records
  • Mass media (8 studies)
  • Snowball technique
what are tracer studies
What are TRACER Studies?
  • Similar terms
    • Graduate survey
    • Alumni research
    • Follow-up study
  • Target population
    • Graduates of an institution of higher education
    • Asked some months/years after graduation
key objectives of tracer studies
Key Objectives of Tracer Studies
  • Employment, labour market signals, professional success
  • Use of qualification and work
  • Retrospective rating/evaluation of study
  • Curricular development
  • Continuing education (marketing)
  • Networking, alumni databank
  • Evaluation – Quality assurance - accreditation
key limits of surveys on graduate employment and work
Key Limits of Surveys on Graduate Employment and Work
  • Employment and work of graduates might change quickly.
  • Some universities tend to adapt to simply to presumed labour market demand.
  • University graduates (and also employers) are no experts about the relationships between learning, knowledge and work.
key theoretical problems
Key Theoretical Problems
  • Which indicators do we need?
  • How to measure the labour market signals?
  • Which factors are relevant to explain the success of the graduates besides higher education?
  • To what extent is the professional success/career caused by HE?
  • Which elements of HE (study conditions and provisions, etc) have an impact?
methodological problems
Methodological Problems
  • Comparability
  • Resources
    • Empirical research experiences
    • Budget
    • Design, sampling, topics, questions
    • Low return rate
  • Quality assurance
    • Conduction/organisation
    • Coding, data entry and data management
    • Data analysis, interpretation and reporting
data analysis and reporting 1
Data Analysis and Reporting (1)
  • Simple frequencies (e.g. % of gradautes employed)
  • Crosstabs (e.g. more male than female are employed four years after graduation)
  • Causal analysis (e.g. the most important factor for explaining a smooth transition is the gained practical training)
a common model of analysis in higher education
A Common Model of Analysis in Higher Education


Study conditions and provisions



Students‘ bio data, experiences, motives



service to society


Kowledge, skills,motivation, grades


Teaching and learning

key issues of an advanced approach for tracer studies
Key Issues of an Advanced Approach for Tracer Studies
  • Collection of several measures of professional success
  • Horizontal differentiation – does the study programme matters?
  • Mixture of objective and subjective indicators
  • Causal relevance of study conditions and provisions
  • Broad scope of questions
  • Background variables (social origin, gender, motives)
  • Key-qualifications
  • Regional mobility
  • Triangulation: combination with employer, student and academic staff surveys