If you are a decision maker at a university, you’ve undoubtedly felt increasing pressure over recent years to prove that your institution is providing good value, not just in terms of its quality of teaching, research and facilities, but also in terms of the outcomes of your students and how well you are serving the needs of industry. This pressure is coming from a number of stakeholders – Government, funding bodies, employers, employer groups and students – and it is clearly set to increase over the coming years, particularly given the rapidly changing nature of the workforce.
For instance, the recent Government discussion paper, Performance-based funding for the Commonwealth Grant Scheme, set out the rationale for performance-based funding on the basis of universities demonstrating that their outcomes are meeting the common good:
“Australians expect their taxpayer-funded public universities to deliver quality higher education … A performance-based funding scheme will ensure universities’ objectives align with those of their students, the Government and the public.”
The common denominator between all the various stakeholders that are putting pressure on universities really boils down to the following question: Are you preparing your students for good employment outcomes, particularly in a quickly changing economy, and can you demonstrate this clearly?
Where can we get data that will help us rise to the challenge?
This is a big question and requires a thorough response. However, one of the main problems in being able to provide such a response is a paucity of good insight that could provide answers. Both internal and official data on graduate outcomes (such as QILT graduate employment data) is very limited, and really doesn’t help the university to rise to the challenge being set. And so the question is where can you get hold of the kind of data that would help?
We have actually been offering exactly these kinds of Alumni insights to universities in the US for the last few years, and the good news is that we now have the equivalent data available for Australia. This new profiles data, which is now available for every university in the country, can help answer a number of vital questions, including the following:
- Where do your graduates go?
- Who are your graduates working for?
- What skills are your graduates using?
In other words, with this data does is gives you the opportunity to explore graduate outcomes by:
- Geographic distribution of students
- Industry and employers
- Course area
- Career groups (i.e. comparing related versus unrelated occupations).
Crucially, in terms of demonstrating your employment outcomes and helping to understand where you can improve, the data also allows a comparison of your university against a benchmark of other universities at the national level, state level, or by peer group universities, for any of these metrics.
Where do your graduates go?
In this piece, we want to give you a quick snapshot of how we can answer that first question above – Where do your graduates end up? Then next week and the following week we’ll take a look at questions two and three.
In order to show how we can answer this first question, what we’ve done (in order to avoid giving any sensitive data out), is to create an anonymised university, amalgamating data from a number of unnamed institutions. The map below shows the distribution of Alumni profiles from this imaginary university, with both current locations and actual profile numbers represented by the bubbles:
As you can see, Sydney is by far the highest destination, with Melbourne and Brisbane following in second and third place. But interestingly, the profiles also show a fair distribution of our imaginary university’s alumni across some smaller towns.
What can this sort of insight be used for?
By identifying where your graduates are going, you will be far better placed to understand which areas you should be concentrating your engagement with industry and employers. For instance, if the vast majority of your students end up staying in your region after graduating, this probably indicates that there are good opportunities for better engagement with regional employers. If, however, large numbers of your graduates are ending up in another particular area, the opportunities for forging better links with employers in those areas arises. However, to answer that question effectively, you first need to know who it is those graduates are working for. It is to this that we will turn our attention in the next piece.
To find out more about how we can help you understand where your graduates go, who they work for, and what skills they are using, contact us now.