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More than 1500 alumni participate in Tracer Facility fieldwork

Daniel Edwards reports on the progress of the Australia Awards Global Tracer Facility as the research program finalises fieldwork in first year and launches its website.

The Australia Awards Global Tracer Facility is a research-based project funded by the Commonwealth Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to collect, analyse and disseminate data from alumni of DFAT’s Australia Awards and other development-focused Australian Government scholarships.

The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) has been contracted to develop and run the Facility, as previously reported in Research Developments. The Facility recently launched a website to offer alumni, researchers, students or others interested in the work of the Facility some insight into the approach being taken by the research team and provide updates on outcomes and progress as the Facility’s reports are released.

The research undertaken by the Facility is designed to provide DFAT with robust information linked to the long term outcomes of the Australia Awards, such as alumni’s use of knowledge and skills to contribute to development in their country, alumni’s links and networks with Australians and Australian organisations, and alumni’s perceptions of Australia.

Fieldwork for the Facility’s first annual Tracer survey has recently been completed. In this first year, alumni who completed their scholarships between 2006 and 2010 from a sample of 27 countries were the target population. The Facility invited these alumni to participate in an online survey and follow-up telephone interviews.

Between December and early February, more the 1500 alumni participated in the Tracer survey, and over 500 of these alumni were involved in follow-up telephone interviews.

Researchers from the Facility have also been to the home countries of alumni, interviewing and compiling in-depth case studies to explore outcomes. Facility researchers have visited Fiji, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Kenya over the past few months to interview alumni, their colleagues and other stakeholders.

These case studies targeted alumni who completed their scholarship at least 20 years ago – meaning that interviews have been carried out with alumni who studied between the 1950s and the 1990s. In Fiji, the case study undertaken focused on alumni who studied in the field of education, the Sri Lanka case study had an emphasis on engineering, while Nepal explored public policy and Kenyan interviews involved alumni in agriculture and forestry. ■

Further information:
Australia is one of the most popular destinations for international students seeking a world-class education experience – and Australia has alumni from every corner of the globe. More than 2.5 million international students have studied in Australia over the last fifty years. Over 80 000 alumni received Australian Government scholarships and fellowships from the Colombo Plan in the 1950s through to the Australia Awards and the New Colombo Plan today.

The Government has developed an Australia Global Alumni Engagement Strategy to reach out to the global alumni community, inviting alumni to connect and engage with Australia and the region. The Australia Global Alumni website provides a virtual global network to connect, build and invigorate the international community of scholars who have studied in Australia, and Australians who have studied overseas.

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About the author

Dr Daniel Edwards is the Research Director of ACER's Tertiary Education research program. 

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