Today we’re at the dawn of a new horizon in education that’s oriented towards an entirely new way of learning, replete with micro-credentialing, multi-model delivery, stackable programs, and free-flow experiences. Unbundling the university experience to allow for rapid adaptation will be essential so students can have the flexibility they crave to drive their own learning in tandem with employer demand. To help set the stage for educators who are focused on this new paradigm, IFC created Vitae.
Vitae helps higher education institutions identify what they can do differently to ensure their students have satisfying employment. The change process unlocks the potential for a virtuous cycle where an institution can attract a more ambitious student body and higher-quality teaching staff, build a stronger alumni base, and achieve long-term institutional growth.
Vitae offers two approaches for an institution to assess itself, which can be undertaken simultaneously or separately: online benchmarking and a bespoke, 360° Assessment process by IFC specialists.
The institution may wish to undertake a free self-assessment to evaluate its practices against a global benchmark. The online benchmarking exercise results in an automated assessment of strengths and weaknesses that points to quick wins the institution can implement.
A more comprehensive review of current practices, the 360° Assessment begins with the input of institutional data to 70 questions. The expanded scope helps to determine whether course selection and instructional processes are aligned with labor market needs, if there are adequate mechanisms for student service provision, and if systems are in place for collecting and acting on industry feedback.
The main areas of focus for the 360° Assessment are as follows:
- Employability strategy, vision, and governance
- Relevance of learning to labor market needs
- Provision of career services and guidance
- Mechanisms for providing and assessing work-integrated learning opportunities
- Retention, completion, and employment rates of students
- Employer engagement
- Alumni management
The gathering of institutional data is complemented by surveys of final-year students and recent graduates. It's then validated through qualitative interviews undertaken with key stakeholders including students, alumni, and employers, as well as faculty, leadership, administration, and student services staff. IFC experts provide guidance throughout.
Institutions receive a benchmarking employability score for each of the dimensions measured by Vitae as well as an overall score. IFC provides insights as to how the institution fares against peers in the aggregate, for a metrics-driven approach to employability. The scoring represents a baseline for the institution to evaluate progress over time.
A debrief is held on the results of the assessment, with practical actions for the institution to undertake along with a proposed roadmap. The entire process, which is guided by an IFC education specialist, lasts about 10 weeks.
After the assessment, institutions can request IFC's advisory services to provide training, guidance, and advice during the implementation process.
In conclusion, Vitae adopts a different approach from higher education ranking instruments, which are often closely aligned with perceptions of brand and reputation. Since ranking instruments are based on the outcomes of prior students, they're by nature backwards-looking. Vitae gathers data directly from institutions and takes an agnostic, analytical approach with multi-stakeholder involvement to examine what happens as students move through the educational process. By disregarding such factors as prestige or size of endowment, Vitae empowers participating institutions to understand their employability baselines, reflect on good practices, and position themselves to support today's students in launching successful careers.