Is a public university's first goal to help its graduates land jobs? Not necessarily, UK president says

09/25/2012 07:54 AM

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto said he was pleased with job placement numbers that showed just more than half of its 2011 graduates landing jobs. And he said the university has a wider role than just helping its grads be employed.

“Our responsibility is prepare them for a life of meaning, purpose and leadership. It may mean creating or reinventing your job. We’ve got to give you a skill set to succeed in that environment,” Capilouto said (5:00 in video).

But Capilouto said job placement numbers don’t “give a complete picture” of UK’s success.

Capilouto also addressed questions about whether any UK programs need to bolster to address 21st century needs (7:15 in video).

Watch the interview:

But job placement surveys, like the one Capilouto quoted in the first part of the interview, have come under question. A July 20, 2012, article in the Chronicle of Higher Education said numbers might be skewed because graduates who are employed are more likely to fill out voluntary job surveys for their alma mater. Here’s an excerpt:
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“… Many colleges release placement rates based on scant information: More than a third of colleges’ reported rates in 2010 were based on responses from half of their graduates or fewer, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. That raises the question of whether the results are skewed by greater participation among happily employed graduates.

That’s not the only reason much job-placement data are unreliable—for prospective students comparing colleges or anybody else keeping tabs. For one, some colleges don’t collect such data at all. Some survey students immediately upon graduation, and others track employment success over several months. Some include recipients of associate and graduate degrees in their statistics, and others eliminate them or separate them out into different reports. Few ask if the jobs that students acquire relate to their fields of study or career paths; many count any positions at all, even unpaid internships.”

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