Based on empirical data from the CHEERS and the REFLEX study - large scale surveys with about 35,000 graduates each from higher education institutions in Europe and Japan; conducted 1999 and 2005 – the presentation will highlight the methodological approach and the key findings about the labour market outcomes of young higher education graduates in an international comparative perspective. CHEERS and REFLEX do not only provide the best genuine comparative empirical data on employment outcomes of graduates of specific cohorts (1995 and 2000) from institutions of higher education in Europe and Japan which were asked four years and five years after graduation. The data allow also to shed light on the key question to what extent higher education was relevant for the employment outcomes of graduates. Subjective and objective indicators of professional success were used in the analysis of the relevance of a broad range of educational factors (e.g. field of study, type of institution, country, reputation, study conditions, study behaviour).
Additionally, the author presents the new “Graduate Survey Approach” for institutional development at German higher education institutions. About 50 institutions of higher education intent to cooperate in this project which was initiated 2007 by INCHER-Kassel (team leader: Harald Schomburg). The study is sponsored for two years by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The project is to implement regular graduate surveys at each institution of higher education in Germany. The first pilot surveys started already 2007, and in the year 2008 up to 90,000 graduates - which represent almost 50% of all graduates of one year – are included in the survey system. In order to provide relevant information for the ongoing process of institutional development (including evaluation, accreditation, career service, student counselling, curriculum development) members of each institution of higher education are engaged in the development of their own questionnaire. At the same time it was ensured that the survey has a large component of common questions which allows fruitful comparative analysis especially of the effects of higher education study provisions and conditions for the employment outcomes of the graduates.
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