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Student tracking on the rise among Europe’s universities

Europe’s universities are increasingly tracking student progress during their course and after graduation to analyse the quality and success of their education, according to the European University Association.

In a study published on 13 September the EUA said that universities are using tracking to find out about the employability of their students and international competition. Tracking information can also be used to inform national policymaking and higher education provision, the study said.

The Trackit-study covered 31 European countries, of which 30 were found to have at least some institutions that track their students. In 22 countries all higher education institutions track how their students progress through their course, and in 28 countries at least some institutions track the career progress of their graduates.

Lesley Wilson, the secretary-general of the EUA, said tracking has increased because Europe now links education more strongly to economic development. “It has become increasingly important for universities to monitor the progression and success of their diverse student populations and the entry of graduates into the labour market,” she said.

The report also highlighted that there is a range of different approaches to tracking across Europe, making it difficult to draw some pan-European conclusions from the data. However, the EUA said that increasingly there is a trend to combine tracking of student progress with that of graduate careers.

In addition to method diversity, tracking data is also at risk from poor management of data and methods, and a somewhat randomized application and use of the data, the EUA stated in its report. In particular “ad-hoc” application of tracking results in strategic planning could do “more harm than good”, the EUA warned.