20 November 2018 • ROA
Labour market experience of university of applied sciences graduates influences their evaluation of degree programmes
Recent graduates of universities of applied sciences evaluate some aspects of their degree programme differently to students in their final year. That is the result from a common analysis of data from the National Student Survey (NSE) and the HBO Monitor, carried out by the Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) at Maastricht University.
Although the average evaluations of students in their final year and graduates are in line with each other, graduates differ in their opinions of some aspects as a result of their experiences with the step to the labour market. On average, graduates are slightly more positive about their lecturers and slightly more critical of the extent to which their degree programme prepared them for the labour market.
NSE and HBO Monitor
Each year both the NSE (carried out by Studiekeuze 123) and the HBO Monitor (carried out by ROA) contain evaluation questions asking respondents to assess various aspects of their university of applied sciences degree programme. The NSE focuses purely on students, while the HBO Monitor is aimed exclusively at recent graduates. Previously, however, it was unclear as to the relationship between the opinions of students in their final year and those of graduates.
Study background and age
An initial result of the comparative ROA analysis is that the changes in evaluations in both measurements appear very similar. When students evaluate degree programmes above or below average, in general there is the same evaluation from graduates. One condition is that the components are measured on the same answer scale. Furthermore, the evaluation of aspects of the degree programmes by female and male graduates shows no notable differences. Older graduates are generally more critical and graduates with preparatory intermediate vocational education are generally more positive. The strong correlation between the evaluation variations that were measured in the NSE and HBO Monitor can be seen as a validation of both independent surveys.
More positive and more critical
To get an idea of the added value of the evaluation questions in the HBO Monitor, on top of the information from the NSE, there was also a study into the differences in the evaluations by students and graduates. Although for most aspects of the degree programmes the average evaluation by students and graduates hardly differs, that is clearly not the case when evaluating lecturers. The same applies to the evaluation of the extent to which the degree programme prepares students for professional life. Recent graduates are on average more positive about the involvement and inspiring ability of their lecturers and on average more negative about the extent to which the degree programme prepared them for a professional career. In both cases, however, it is a difference of about 0.3 to 0.4 points on the scale (on a five-point scale), which suggests that this relates to a slight adjustment in the original evaluation rather than a fundamental revision.
Predictive of labour market success
Additionally, further analysis showed that the evaluation of courses by university of applied sciences graduates is affected by their experiences on the labour market during the first year after graduation. Graduates of degree programmes with favourable labour market results are, for example, more positive in their evaluation of how they were prepared for entering the labour market after graduating than during the course itself. In comparison, graduates of degree programmes with high rates of progression to follow-on education were more critical in their evaluation of lecturers. Finally, it seems that changes in social opinions during and after degree programmes can be explained, to a limited extent, by graduates’ individual experiences of the labour market. The changes were mainly explained by the labour market success of their degree programme as a whole, even if these diverge from individual success on the labour market.
The report Wie A zegt, zegt ook B? is on the ROA website.