Training on University Graduates’ Tracer Study Course 2.0 in East Africa 2015-2016 (UNITRACE 2.0)

The University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) coordinates the Training on University Graduates’ Tracer Studies (UNITRACE 2.0) in cooperation with the Commission for University Education (CUE) and the Inter University Council for East Africa (IUCEA). This intensive training course is part of the DIES program2015-08-25 Unitrace Wordle Eame (Dialogue on Innovative Higher Education Strategies). DIES is a programme jointly conducted by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) aiming at supporting the management of higher education in developing countries to develop strategies, which improve the university management as well as the quality and relevance of study programmes. DIES is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). One of the components of the DIES programme are practise-oriented training courses. Most of the courses are designed to offer further education to middle-level management staff of higher education institutions of developing countries. The courses are structured in several modules and integrate the implementation of individual project plans. Further information on the DAAD DIES programme can be found at www.daad.de/dies.

Course Background and Objectives

Globalization has created a vibrant and dynamic global market with major impacts on Higher Education (HE) institutions worldwide. In Africa, the number of universities and consequently of students has grown tremendously over the last ten years. The question now is how to maintain quality across old and new universities with such high numbers of universities and students. In recent years quality assurance has become an important issue for internal university structures. This goes along with the increasing demand that higher education institutions should provide empirical evidence regarding the professional relevance of their study programmes. Besides the aspect of accountability higher education institutions are becoming more and more interested to get a systematic feedback from their graduates. Especially the improvement of the study programmes- and more specific the revision of curricula- are the core objectives of the graduate studies.

Generally, there are various methodological opportunities and challenges which have to be realized during a graduate tracer study. To serve its purpose, graduate tracer studies should be conducted by persons with a good level of professional expertise to prevent low response rates, far too simple data analysis and wrong interpretations of the findings. The UNITRACE 2.0 training programme, offered by the Centre for Higher Education Development and Quality Enhancement (CHEDQE) at the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) in Germany, is tied to the UNITRACE training programme, which was conducted 2010-2013 by INCHER-Kassel at the University of Kassel in Germany. In the framework of UNITRACE professional tracer studies were carried out by the UNITRACE participants from the Kenyatta University, Moi University and Addis Ababa University. The aim was to provide systematic information on the relationships between study and graduate employment and work, graduates’ satisfaction with postgraduate programs, quality of teaching, transition to the labour market, and related themes.

UNITRACE 2.0 targets staff members from higher education institutions who will be responsible for the realization of graduate studies. The training course is in line and financed via the DIES course programme of the DAAD. The overall objective of UNITRACE 2.0 is to develop skills for university managers in order to be able to design, implement and analyse graduate tracer studies as being part of the internal quality assurance systems. The participants will be trained by experienced East African and German researchers in the major aspects of the studies such as: questionnaire development based on relevant theories and specific research questions, research methodology, organization of the field work, methodology to achieve a high response rate, data entry and data editing, coding, data analysis, interpretation of findings and reporting. Participants will be accompanied and supported throughout the whole process of their tracer study.

Content and Methodology

The UNITRACE 2.0 workshop programme has a duration of 1 ¼ years, starting in October 2015 and finishing in January 2017. It assembles the experience of Kenyan researchers who have been trained in graduate tracer studies by the DIES-training UNITRACE in 2010-2013 as well as the expertise of German researchers specialized on graduate studies. It consists of four workshops and two online mentorships. The training will be hands-on with a strong practical focus. The workshops will include mixed methods such as presentations of experts, discussions among the participants and with experts, case studies, and individual feedback and mentoring. Therefore, participants are expected to develop and to implement a project action plan (PAP) during the training in order to turn theory into practice. It is requested that participants implement a graduate tracer study parallel to their participation in the workshops. Each phase of the graduate tracer study will be prepared in detail during the workshops. In order to facilitate the workshop and coaching approach of UNITRACE 2.0 within the long distance between East Africa and Germany it is necessary to establish an online-platform (moodle) that will be administered by UDE. Via the platform the trainers will be available for support and able to solve problems that occur during the conduction of the graduate tracer study.

Self-study material as a result of the training will be developed and provided by UDE/CHEDQE as a PDF document for download. It will be based on the course concept and the experience gained during the course.

All Workshops of UNITRACE 2.0 will be held at Moi University, Nairobi Campus.