Graduate tracking gives insight into improving European education

Publication date: 05/06/2020
Knowing how graduates perceive the relevance of their studies – and what they do after obtaining their qualifications – is key to improving education and training systems.
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The European Commission has published two reports that highlight the benefits of an EU-wide graduate tracking system in preparing European education for tomorrow’s challenges. The European graduate pilot survey reached out to Bachelor, Master and tertiary short-cycle graduates one and five years after graduation in eight countries (Austria, Croatia, Czechia, Germany, Greece, Malta, Lithuania and Norway), and indicates key factors to improve study outcomes.

Results aid our understanding of what can be done to improve Education and training in Europe. Experience abroad during a study period, for instance, increases the level of problem-solving skills. An ’activating learning environment’, where lectures are complemented with problem-based and work-based learning, provides better preparation for the labour market. Study-related work experience as part of the curriculum reduces by nearly half the risk of being unemployed or in a lower skilled job.

However, the reports also show there’s progress to be made. Less than half of survey respondents reported studying in an activating environment, showing the need for further efforts to support this approach. The European Universities initiative, a flagship of the European Education Area, promotes student-centred and challenge-based learning. Additional mapping of graduate tracking practices in Member States, the United Kingdom, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein found that significant effort is still required to reach a comparable graduate tracking system at European level.

According to Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, ‘Education and training will play an essential role for the sustainable economic and social recovery of the European Union. Knowing which types of learning and qualifications promote professional success and personal fulfilment will help improve the efficiency and relevance of Europe’s higher education systems. This will also help anticipate and foresee the future professions and prepare for them’. The graduate tracking system will aid education professionals and policy-makers in identifying contemporary challenges facing our education and training systems – helping to build a better, brighter Europe for future graduates.