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  • Improving education through tracking

    - The new EUA study highlights increasing importance of tracking university students’ progression paths. Tracking enhances the quality of universities and improves their strategic development. EUA chief Lesley Wilson therefore pleads for extra attention for tracking

    This study is the first of this kind, and its aim was to map the state of play in 31 countries, and to provide factual information on the uses and methods for tracking students' progress at both the national level as well as within higher education institutions.

    Understanding student drop-out

    EUA Secretary General Lesley Wilson: "it has become increasingly important for universities to monitor the progression and success of their diverse student populations and the entry of graduates into the labor market". He hopes that through this study institutions get inspired through best practices in other countries and that new tracking approaches will be developed the coming years.

    Not only the quality of education will be stimulated by systematic data gathering of students. It also helps in raising awareness of teaching results and helps understanding student drop-out. Tracking results were found to be instrumental for improving and devising better targeted student support systems.

    Student-centred-learning

    There is a growing interest in tracking and an increasing number of initiatives both at national and institutional level. This trend is driven by a variety of factors such as a shift to student-centred learning. Also the increased focus on employability and entry into the labor market as criteria for assessing higher education provision are of importance.

    The research shows the existence of a range of different approaches across Europe. Some countries appear to prioritize the surveying of graduates, others focus principally on student progress. However, there is a trend towards combining both.

    Challenges and risks

    However tracking can help institutions there are certainly risks which need to be considered. Poor management of tracking, such as a lack of coordination of tracking approaches and are likely to do 'more harm than good'. The study warns for over-surveying and the ad-hoc application of tracking results. A good follow-up plan after the tracking results are gathered might 'make or break'  everything.

     

    A full copy of the report can be downloaded here.