Studies on graduate employment and work, often called “tracer studies”, have spread worldwide in recent years in order to collect in-depth information on the relationships between study at vocational and higher education institutions and the professional situ- ation of graduates. More and more schools, colleges and universities are engaged in collecting systematically information about the employment situation, work assignments and career paths of their former students. They tend to get relevant information to improve the study conditions and provisions. Many different approaches of institutional tracer studies developed during the last years, while in many countries well established national tracer studies continues to be conducted regularly. Tracer studies are more and more confronted with large and very different expectations. In many countries they play a prominent role in the accreditation process of study programmes or institutions. The conduction of tracer studies is mandatory in more and more countries, but the resources to conduct such studies with a high quality are mostly very limited. Institution- al tracer studies need to develop efficient data collection methods, which are different from those of the well established research institutes.
With the conferences an account of the approaches and the findings of tracer studies should help both understand the potentials of these studies and analyse the worldwide state of knowledge how education can contribute more successfully to the subsequent career of graduates.
The international conference EXLIMA aims at serving the exchange of information on tracer studies both methodologically and content-wise:
- to deepen the understanding of the links between curricula, learning, competences and graduate employment and work,
- to discuss the use and misuse of tracer studies for quality assessment, accountability and ranking,
- to discuss how tracer studies have to be designed and implemented in order to elicit the most valuable results,
- to bring researchers from VET/TVET and HE together,
- to contribute to the development of international standards of tracer studies (objectives/questions and methodology).
The first two international tracer study conferences were held in Bali 2012 and 2015 with more than 300 participants from Africa, America, Asia and Europe.