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22 June 2011World-first survey determines what becomes of university graduates

A large-scale survey of New Zealand graduates – which aims to determine the ongoing impact of a university education on graduates’ lives – is being launched this year and is a world first in its scope.

The Graduate Longitudinal Study New Zealand (GLSNZ) has been commissioned by Universities New Zealand – Te Pōkai Tara, the representative body for the country’s eight universities, with main funding support from the Tertiary Education Commission.

While similar studies have been undertaken overseas – for example in the UK and Canada– no other study will be as comprehensive over a 10-year period.

During July to September this year, 14,000 final-year students (undergraduate and postgraduate) – representative of the approximately 40,000 students completing their studies at New Zealand universities during 2011 – will be invited to complete a comprehensive on-line questionnaire. The same individuals will be approached for follow-up surveys two, five and 10 years later.

The GLSNZ survey will be carried out by the internationally-respected National Centre for Lifecourse Research (NCLR) – a multi-university group headquartered at the University of Otago. It will be led by Centre Co-Director Professor Richie Poulton.

Professor Poulton says the survey will provide the most detailed picture to date of what actually happens to graduates after they leave university.

“We will learn a great deal about how their lives unfold. For instance, how careers develop, the university-related influences which have the greatest impact on employment success, when they begin to have families, where they live, the state of their finances, their health and their social relationships.

“We will also learn about less tangible aspects of their post-university life – like how their values, attitudes and behaviours evolve over time – and what contribution to broader society they make.”

NCLR’s expertise in longitudinal studies has provided a foundation for developing this new study and the experiences of the British and Canadian studies have also been taken into account. There has been close liaison with the universities and key government agencies which have a particular interest in the study.

This ambitious longitudinal study replaces a previous Graduate Destinations survey, which involved questioning New Zealand university graduates about their employment outcomes during the year after graduation. That survey was discontinued after a 2008 review concluded it had run its course, and that an understanding of the longer-term impact of university study would be more valuable to both universities and policy makers.

Universities NZ Chair Derek McCormack says that a longitudinal study is preferable to the old annual survey.

“International evidence shows that the greatest impacts of a university education become apparent over a period of years, rather than in the year immediately following graduation. This study will provide a richness of data that hasn’t been available before.”

The baseline report, outlining the results of the initial survey, will be released in February next year.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Dr Kaa-Sandra Chee
GLSNZ Project Manager
Tel 03 479 5087
Mobile 021 355 726

Matt Huntington
Communications Manager
Universities NZ
Tel 04 381 8503
Mobile 021 812 210


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