Comparing proportional compositions of geospatial technology-related programs at three universities
Today, graduates seek employment in a global marketplace, regardless of the country in which they studied. Comparing academic programs helps students, academics and employers to make informed decisions about study options, program offerings and the employment of recent graduates. In this study, we juxtapose geospatial technologyrelated programs at three universities located in Europe, Africa and America. Initially, the authors contributed information about these programs through a questionnaire comprising several open-ended questions about the origins and development of the respective programs. Subsequently, the proportional thematic compositions of programs at the three universities were compared. As expected, this study was not without challenges. From the outset, we struggled with agreeing on terminology and semantics. Results of the study indicate that there is not a one-size-fits-all strategy for establishing, shaping and sustaining such programs. Program composition is guided by many factors, including staff expertise, university politics, legislation, attractiveness to students, technological developments, demands in the job market and requirements set by a professional body. Some of these factors are strongly influenced by the local (university) environment (e.g. staff expertise), others are of national relevance (e.g. legislation and a national professional body), while some apply globally (e.g. technological developments). The study illustrated how a comparison of proportional program composition can reveal significant differences and similarities that are not obvious when only content is compared. The compositional differences naturally result in graduates with different knowledge and skills that allow different career paths and meet different needs of the job market.