Since the middle of the 90´s the universities and higher education institutions all over the world have started to focus on quality assurance to meet the needs of their students as well as those of the society respectively the labour market. Therefore a well established knowledge about the strengths and weaknesses of their study programs is essential for quality management.
At the same time higher education institutions are increasingly required to be accountable for their work. Accordingly, the success of universities is to a high degree measured by the outcome of their students in their employment situation and their social commitment. Graduate follow up studies are one mean to achieve this.
These studies collect information about graduates professional, personal and social development. They ask questions mainly in the following three areas:
- the higher education background
- the labour market
- the employment situation
Here are some examples of how these studies can be used:
- to assess the relevance and quality of the academic curricula
- to improve curricular design
- to help students choose a degree
- to link up with alumni
- to get indicators on the quality of education
- to assess the graduates satisfaction with regards to their education
- to make better marketing decisions
- to know the level of graduates insertion in the labour market and their professional careers
- to meet the employers needs
- to design adequate post grade and life long training programs
- to assess the accuracy of graduates education with regards to their work
- to verify whether the university mission is reflected in the personal fulfilment of the graduates and their social commitment.The results of a gradua2 network survey from November 2004 show, that 24 % of the universities in Europe and 32% in Latin America had not yet carried out any graduate follow up studies.