BDU Graduate Tracer Study


To collect data on AASSTU's graduates regarding their employment status

Outcome measure

Reliable data on graduates after they leave BDU which will indicate BDU's policies and its programs' relevance


BDU will be able to get immediate feedback on the employability and quality of its graduates and will also be able to use the data to evaluate program relevance with respect to the labour market needs


Estimated 10,000 prospective graduates from BDU, annually

Resources required

A team to conduct the tracer study and to do data analysis, transportation, communication devices, online survey platform, database

Definition of success

BDU will have a well-informed and full-fledged status of its graduates and whether the industry is satisfied with the quality of BDU's graduates


1. Establish tracer study instruments and methods
2. Conduct tracer study
3. Analyze tracer study data
4. Provide feedback to relevant departments


Alumni Affair / Career Center


Tracer study will provide immediate impact by establishing the baseline of graduate employability for BDU, and will be used to track progress and improvement in the future

Graduate Tracer studies (GTS)

at Bahir Dar University/Ethiopia

what is GTS?

If universities are to improve the teaching and training of their graduates, the precedence should be to learn and garner improvements from graduates’ nuanced experiences. University Graduate Tracer Studies (GTS) are commonly becoming a recognizable practice worldwide. These studies involve identification and follow-up of graduates from higher education institutions (HEIs) spurred by the need to give careful consideration to how graduates view the experiences they underwent during their study and their transition to the job market. Tracer studies can be defined as retrospective analyses of graduates through a standardized survey, which takes place sometime after graduation (normally between 6 months and 3 years).

Various terms are used for graduate tracer surveys:

(a) Graduate survey/study;

(b) Alumni survey/study;

(c) Graduate (career) tracking;

(d) Follow-up survey/study;

(e) Transition survey/study;

(f) Tracer survey/study;

Standardized surveys are usually conducted by means of a paper questionnaire or, more recently, online questionnaires. Telephone interviews are also used, where the interviewer enters the answers simultaneously into a form.

There are two types of tracer surveys. The first, which is termed as the “follow-up approach”, or “baseline” tracer survey, focuses on a randomly selected sample of students prior to their graduation. The aim is to get their contact addresses for future follow-ups and post-graduate aspirations, as well as for the colleges/institutions to have a gleam of what their graduates think about the quality of the trainings they have been offering to them. The second, which is termed as “retrospective survey”, is carried out focusing on a randomly selected sample of people who graduated, say six months or a year ago, and to analyze their employment status in the labor market. Retrospective tracer surveys are usually carried out on graduate trainees that have been surveyed at the time of their graduation implying that retrospective survey are basically follow-ons to the baseline tracer surveys. The two are not mutually exclusive because both approaches focus on tracing the status of graduates at the time of graduation and thereafter, as well as to provide a good understanding of the training system itself in relation to the requirements of the labour market.

Universities embraced the use of tracer studies for a plethora of reasons; especially to accredit their study programs; to explain the link between study programs and the job market; to show uniqueness and positioning of individual universities; and also to enable universities and institutions managing higher education in their respective countries make informed and evidence based decisions about improvements and quality education and services in higher education.

In addition, importance of graduate tracer studies is to incorporate effective improvements into institutional programs of HEIs by collecting and analyzing information on graduate’s study experiences, professional and personal careers. Such studies also emphasize programmatic issues, conditions, situations and contexts within which the graduates studied at the University; positing and interrogating the quality of these study provisions and conditions.

Graduate studies at Bahir Dar University

In 2010, Bahir Dar University conducted tracer study on 2007 and 2008 E.C. graduates to achieve the following important issues.

  • Enumerating employed and unemployed graduates,
  • Identifying professionally employed (either in public or private companies) and self-employed graduates,
  • Identifying whether graduates that are employed with degree relevant jobs, and those employed with jobs unrelated with their degree
  • Identify the graduate employment duration rate after their graduation.
  • To investigate the disparities between demand for and supply of graduate skills in the industry
  • To identify the extent to which the skills of graduates were utilized by the graduates in the labor market.
  • To identify the extent to which the skills of graduates were utilized by the graduates in the labor market.

To answer the above specific objects, the team followed the following important steps. Three methods of data gathering was adopted to increase the response rate and richness of the data

  1. Deciding the target population of GTS (2007 and 2008) from SIMS
  2. Selecting the representative samples and addressing the selected graduates through telephone interview (45 instructors) to know the current location the graduates
  3. Clustering the graduates by 11 geographical regions and the 45 instructors were allocated by considering the distance, the number of graduates and the like to collect the necessary information and their employees.

A brief questionnaire was developed to acquire the most relevant information about the graduates’ career outcomes. Including the demographic details about graduates’ qualifications, working status (including periods of unemployment) and graduates’ type of occupation and sector of employment, together with their attitude towards their job.  GTS is one of the seven strategies of the delivery unit at Bahir Dar University.  One of the aims of delivery unit is to maximize the employability of graduates up to 80% by 20202 within a year relayed to their field of study (the goal is set by MOE).  A GTS at Bahir Dar University shows that 70.5 % of graduates are be able to employed within a year after graduation related to their field of study.

The result can be released up on the request of any organization/ stakeholders.

Additionally, Bahir Dar University is ready to conduct the tracers study on 2009 and 2010 graduates in 2011.