Institutional models and data integration

The national research projects described above serve to draw up a picture of the general Hungarian situation and establish long term, constant data collection. In this respect it seems that we are not significantly behind the states with the most developed higher education systems. International examples also highlight that the most direct utilisation of career tracking results takes place mostly at the international level: in the development of study programmes building on the continuous labour market experiences of graduates; in strengthening competence-based education also reflecting employer expectations and in general in establishing institutional quality control. Hungarian central GCT also sees the special importance of supporting institutional career tracking surveys. This is implemented by, amongst other things, research and development projects which-as the leaders of the programme hope-will significantly contribute to improving the professional standards of Hungarian graduate career tracking and also providing opportunity for more sophisticated and comprehensive analyses.

1.) New research directions of career tracking: lecturers and employers, competences of graduates

National student, graduate and PhD research constitutes the research-logic framework for career tracking. Additionally there have been several pilot surveys, aiming to approach the problems of career tracking from multiple directions (1). The researchers felt it important to extend the surveys in two main directions: with data collection among employers on the one hand and lecturers on the other.

Surveying opinions and experiences of fresh graduates among employers as representative of the institutional and corporate sphere employing graduates has constituted an established direction of enquiry for a long time in the research of the "marketability" and practice-oriented nature of degrees, the general employer expectations towards graduates and the market value of degrees in general. Despite that, over-emphasising the importance of the often inarticulately and superficially expressed demands of the employers'sphere in the assessment of study programmes may represent the evident misunderstanding of the function and nature of higher education, they may provide highly important information for the development of the given study programmes. That is why it seems reasonable to partially integrate one of the most significant, professionally established labour market research series, implemented under the coordination of the Economy and Enterprise Analysis Institute of the Hungarian Chamber of Trade and Industry, for three years now. The survey, focusing on the determining companies of the competitive sector based on a personal questionnaire, has not only extended the professional programme of GCT with important research results related to employer perceptions and expectations regarding fresh graduates, but has also provided useful methodological experience (2). This is especially true for the survey of competencies presented with increasing weight in such types of data collections.

Local labour market surveys starting from the regional embeddedness of the institutions focus on mapping up the more important sphere of employers in the region and may also significantly contribute to the career tracking activities of individual universities and colleges. This however not only requires learning about the opinions of employers, but the detailed analysis of the economic potential and labour market processes of the region as well, including aspects like the local characteristics of the relationship between higher education institutions and the labour market. The labour market research conducted in cooperation with Széchenyi István University of Győr in Spring 2009 aimed to test professional opportunities hidden in such examinations (3).

An experimental pilot survey was also conducted among lecturers. According to the basic hypothesis of the survey the lecturers at higher education institutions have a wide range of special information about employment after graduation, which basically results from the duality of their position. Being participant in higher education, as well as labour market players (either as employees or leaders representing the higher education institutions, or as staff of "external" institutions or companies), who are also directly affected by market requirements, while they are preparing students for the entry to employment on the basis of their complex knowledge. This relationship and knowledge may be of many kinds in terms of its nature, depth and motifs-the objective of the research is to explore the labour market aspects of this special situation, and to map up how the knowledge of lecturers may be utilised in the skill development and labour market strategy of the institution. The in-depth interview survey was conducted at the faculties of the University of Szeged in Spring 2009 (4).

2.) Standardising and integrating institutional career tracking data collections

An important function of questionnaire surveys conducted among both students and graduates is to develop and test the question blocks that will constitute the common framework of the institutional career tracking research to be started in 2010. The essence of the whole programme is that every university and college joining the central programme (5), will conduct its annual career tracking data collection among its students and graduates with the same questions nationwide or by educational fields (and all institutions have the opportunity to extend their institutional research with extra questions). The annually repeated standard questionnaire surveys are conducted by online data collection methods supplemented by a survey based on personal interviews every three years among the graduates from the past few years. In addition to the primary institutional analyses, the surveys, which are equivalent in their theme and methodology in every institution, provide several data procession opportunities, e.g. in the form of national, regional analyses or by educational field. Individual institutions will have access to the national data series summarised at the level of educational fields, and thus they can assess the results referring to their university and college faculty in comparison with the general Hungarian tendencies. The success, or failure of the data collections to be started in 2010 is of course uncertain as yet, but as a result of the research applying the information technology questionnaire software developed specially for this purpose there is hope-of course depending on the as yet hardly assessable response rate-that perhaps as much as an hundred thousand item student and graduate database will be available for researchers and experts of institutions.

Model of institutional career tracking surveys

(with a few exceptions, practically only the religious institutions not offering secular programmes did not join the programme).

-István Fábri-

1. As a result of cooperation among professionals working in the development of central GCT and many experts dealing with institutional career tracking a publication was prepared in November 2009 analysing the methodological and organisational problems of institutional graduate career tracking entitled: Diplomás pályakövetés - Kézikönyv (eds. Tamás Horváth - László Kiss - Andrea Nyerges - Éva Roberts). Educatio Public Services Nonprofit LLC, Budapest, 2009.

2. István János Tóth - Zoltán Várhalmi: Diplomás pályakezdők a versenyszektorban. In: Diplomás pályakövetés 1. Hazai és nemzetközi tendenciák. Educatio Public Service Company / National Higher Education Information Centre, Budapest, 2008. (eds.: István Fábri-Tamás Horváth-László Kiss-Andrea Nyerges) p.99-118.

3. In this volume we present an analysis of the results of research with similar subjects conducted earlier. See: Melinda Forgó and Róbert Lévai: Frissdiplomásokkal szemben támasztott munkaadói elvárások. Felsőoktatási Műhely 2009/3. p. 75-86.

4. See the study in this issue: Zsófia Kürtösi: Oktatói vélemények a hallgatók elhelyezkedési esélyeiről, munkaerő-piaci felkészültségéről. Felsőoktatási Műhely 2009/3. p. 61-74.

5. More than 30 institutions have won sponsorship from the TÁMOP 4.1.1. Hallgatói és intézményi szolgáltatás-fejlesztés a felsőoktatásban application, which almost covers all of state recognised higher education in Hungary