Graduate Longitudinal Study New Zealand

World-first survey under way at Massey University

Wednesday 14th September 2011

About 2500 Massey University final-year students have been approached to take part in a world-first study of graduates.

The Graduate Longitudinal Study New Zealand has been is being commissioned by Universities New Zealand – Te Pōkai Tara. It involves surveying 14,000 final-year students across New Zealand about their lifestyles, employment, projected career development, and their health and wellbeing. As a longitudinal study, the participants will be re-approached for follow-up surveys in two, five and 10 years’ time.

The study aims to determine the ongoing impact of a university education on New Zealand graduates’ lives. The breadth of questions and length of time the study follows graduates into the future are the features that make the study a world first.

Massey University Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey said in a letter to students selected to take part that "the insights generated will be invaluable to future students, parents (which might be you at that point), policy makers and universities themselves. It will allow us to work towards improving the quality and value of a university education for the benefit of all."

The study is being carried out by the internationally-respected National Centre for Lifecourse Research, a multi-university group based at Otago University and responsible for the world-renowned Dunedin Multi-disciplinary Study, which has followed since birth the lives of about 1000 people now aged about 40. Centre co-director Professor Richie Poulton, who is leading the graduate study, says it will provide the most detailed picture to date of what happens to graduates after they leave university.

“We will learn a great deal about how their lives unfold," Professor Poulton says. "For instance, how careers develop, the university-related influences that 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.”

Results of the initial baseline survey will be released in February next year.