Report from Tracking the Higher Education Student Lifecycle Conference (5-6 June 2012)
Around 130 university leaders and senior management, national and European policy makers, companies and other higher education representatives gathered in Copenhagen earlier this week for the Tracking the Higher Education Student Lifecycle Conference.
The event, at the Aarhus University Copenhagen Campus, brought together a wide range of stakeholders involved in the design and implementation of initiatives for tracking students and graduates (during their studies and into the labour market) for a presentation and discussion of the preliminary findings of the TRACKIT project. This two-year project, led by EUA, has undertaken a study to provide an overview of tracking procedures in 31 countries. This has been based on a qualitative survey, a series of focus groups, and site visits to 23 European universities in 11 countries. The survey has been well supported by EUA members, in particular the national rectors’ conferences.
Presenting the project findings in Copenhagen, Michael Gaebel (EUA) told the audience that the number of tracking initiatives being developed in Europe (either at the institutional or national levels) appeared to be increasing. This trend has been driven by a number of factors such as the moves towards student-centred learning and rising participation rates, which also means that access, retention, but also employability and entry into the labour market are increasingly used as criteria to measure higher education provision. At the same time, growing use of data in public policy making, and enhanced technical possibilities for data collection have also driven the development of tracking.
The preliminary results of the TRACKIT study suggest that while some countries appear to prioritise the surveying of graduates, others focus almost entirely on student progress. Generally, there seems to be a trend towards combining both goals, which is already the case in some countries. The conference clearly proved that despite the fact that national frameworks for tracking differ considerably, regarding drivers and use, there is a strong demand for exchange of experience and sharing of good practice between institutions.
Participants in Copenhagen also discussed the advantages and disadvantages of centralised (national) approaches to tracking but also heard how ‘shared’ approaches, where universities participate in the design and implementation of centrally-led approaches, are becoming increasingly common.
Overall, the study and the event both highlighted that universities are generally very positive about tracking initiatives, as it enables them for example to have a better understanding of the overall student experience, what contributes to success, drop-out rates and the development of student support and career services. Tracking has also helped for example, to create better awareness of teaching results, and to contribute to the overall strategic development of universities.
Nevertheless institutions have also pointed to a number of challenges with tracking such as problems related to ‘survey fatigue’, or difficulties with following up on the information they have collected.
Following this event EUA will now be drafting a detailed report on the outcomes of this project that is due to be published in September 2012.
Presentations from the conference will also be posted shortly on the event website.
The TRACKIT project is co-organised with the Irish Universities Association/UCD Geary Institute, Hochschul-Informations-System GmBH (HIS), Lund University, University of the Peloponnese/Centre for Social and Educational Policy Studies and Aarhus University, and supported by the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme. More information on the project is available here.
International CODOC workshop focuses on building capacity and refining the purpose of the Doctorate
The third and last regional workshop of the CODOC project (Cooperation on Doctoral Education between Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe), which took place at the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil) from 24 to 25 May, focused on the value and purpose of doctoral education from the point of view of universities, higher education systems and national research agendas.
University Association Conference: ‘Innovative Strategies for Higher Education in Latin America and Europe’ (Sao Paulo, Brazil, 11-14 November 2012)
EUA is pleased to announce the opening of registrations for the first major bi-regional conference of university associations and their members from Latin America and Europe. Part of the ALFA PUENTES project, this event will take place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from 11 to 14 November 2012.
Call for applications to host 6th EUA Council for Doctoral Education Annual Meeting in 2013
The EUA Council for Doctoral Education (EUA-CDE) has published a call for interest to host its Sixth Annual Meeting in June 2013 and would like to encourage its members to submit a declaration of interest before the deadline of 10 September 2012. Read more
Horizon 2020 update: EUA participates in EPP hearing
Following last week’s agreement between EU ministers for research on an overall framework for the proposed Horizon 2020 research and innovation funding programme (2014-2020), EUA participated on behalf of its members on Wednesday in an important Horizon 2020 hearing organised by the European People's Party (EPP Group) in the European Parliament. Read more