Since 2008 the Freie Universität Berlin has been conducting this survey as part of the Graduate Survey Cooperation Project (KOAB) together with more than 60 universities and the Institute for Applied Statistics (ISTAT).
The Graduate Survey Cooperation Project is also linked to the National Graduate Panel. The panel serves primarily to provide information on the state of education and facilitates political decision-making at national level. It is conducted every four years and refers to random samples from all federal states of Germany.
The project has two primary aims:
- To gain information that can be used as the basis for improving the professional and employment prospects of those completing the study program.
- To arrive at a retrospective evaluation of the study program with regard to the qualifications and skills acquired during it (both within and outside a specific discipline) and how useful they are in professional life.
The potential offered by studies of graduates, in comparison to university or labor market statistics, lies in their combining objective and subjective data. Alongside purely quantitative criteria pertaining to professional success (income, position, conditions of employment, etc.), these studies also capture information on individual motivation and satisfaction. Graduates’ self-assessments allow for statements on the use of the knowledge acquired during the study program, how well that knowledge fits the requirements of professional practice, and the adequacy of employment. These studies can also yield valuable information on various fields of action in higher education development:
- In quality management, a retrospective evaluation of study conditions by graduates also serves as an indicator for evaluating processes such as the course of a professional career, long-term professional success, and respondents’ experiences in the labor market.
- For transition development and evaluation, the studies supply valuable information for comparing target and actual values.
- The information obtained through studies of graduates also performs various functions in terms of advising students, in the university’s career service, and in working with alumni.
The questionnaire addresses questions from the following subject areas:
- Satisfaction with the study program, retrospective overall evaluation of the study program (courses and events, instructors, overall conditions, advising, study program’s relevance to and orientation toward real-world practice and application)
- Transitions to professional life (unemployment, transitional jobs, regular gainful employment, continuing education)
- Current professional situation and key points in the progress of respondents’ careers (job, type of employment, professional position, company form and size, economic sector, income, working hours, employment abroad, independent contracting or sole proprietorships, reasons for choosing current position)
- Professional expectations (adequacy of employment, job satisfaction, opportunities utilized in looking for a job, job changes and the reasons for them, professional steps to secure respondents’ futures)
- Remaining at the higher education institution (further studies, including doctoral studies; financing and usefulness of further studies, including doctoral studies)
- Qualifications that employers require of graduates
- Important qualifications for respondents’ current professional activities and the importance to their current professional activities of the qualifications, knowledge, and skills acquired during their studiesQuestions on respondents’ socio-demographic backgrounds
The main questions can be summarized as follows:
- How do former students rate the study programs completed at Freie Universität Berlin after the fact?
- What are graduates doing today? Have they stayed at the university (for a master’s degree or doctoral program, etc.), or have they moved on?
- What are the transitions from studying to professional life like?
- What qualifications have graduates been expected to have, and how important are the knowledge and skills they acquired during their studies to their current professional activities?
- What is their current professional situation like?
- What have their professional experiences been so far, and how do the prospects for the future look?