Survey: Graduates satisfied with studies, increase in working alongside

The main building at the University of Tartu (TÜ).
The main building at the University of Tartu (TÜ). Source: Andres Tennus/University of Tartu

There has been an increase in students working during their studies, results of a new survey of graduates from Estonian higher education institutions shows. Nine out of 10 say they are satisfied with their choice and studies.

Three-quarters of the alumni surveyed think their current job is very closely or largely related to the field in which they studied.

Three-quarters of respondents said their studies had met their expectations and two-thirds said they had acquired skills they regularly use at work.

Sigrid Vaher, deputy head of the higher education department of the Ministry of Education and Research, said that the results show that the alumni are satisfied with the higher education acquired in Estonia and manage well in the labor market.

"At the same time, it must be acknowledged that one's competitiveness in the labor market is valued lower by doctoral graduates and graduates in science, mathematics and statistics," Vaher added.

She added the results of the alumni survey confirm the change in the student body.

"While ten years ago, less than half of the students worked before the start of their studies and during their studies, now almost three-fifths of them do," Vaher said.

"While work is usually considered a factor hindering studies, the survey data shows more and more students are working in jobs in their field even before starting to study. This indicates that higher education institutions must be increasingly prepared to meet the expectations of the working student."

More than three-quarters of the alumni worked during their studies, including 80 percent of Estonian and 62 percent of foreign alumni. Compared to previous surveys, the share of students who worked both before and during their studies has increased significantly.

Compared to data from 2009, 45 percent of alumni worked before starting studies or during their studies.

After graduation, alumni of Estonian higher education institutions are characterized by a high employment rate as 89 percent of respondents are employed.

In total, 7 percent of all, and 5 percent of Estonian, alumni work abroad. About half of the Estonian alumni abroad are planning to return to Estonia in the near future. About half of the foreign graduates work abroad and half in Estonia.

Altogether 42 percent of foreign alumni working in Estonia are planning to stay in Estonia for at least ten years and 19 percent for up to five years.

In three cases out of four, the work done and the speciality studied are related.

The largest number of graduates with a job corresponding to their studies is among the graduates of the fields of information and communications technology (ICT), education and health and well-being. Compared to 2015, the share of doctoral alumni engaged in work in their field has increased the most.

When finding their current job, alumni considered professional knowledge, the ability to apply theoretical knowledge in practice and the knowledge of Estonian and English to be the most important. Career services, experience abroad and the topic of the dissertation were considered less important.

The survey was conducted by Ernst & Young Baltic AS in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Research. The web-based questionnaire survey was conducted among alumni who graduated from higher education in Estonia in 2016-2018. The responses of a total of 5,000 alumni were analyzed.

The aim of the survey was to provide an overview of the background of alumni related to studies, post-graduation activities, coping in the labor market and acquired competencies and satisfaction with studies, as well as to provide feedback to higher education institutions on the quality of studies.

Similar alumni surveys have been conducted in Estonia every three years, a survey covering all higher education institutions was started in 2009.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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