Your study and work abroad experiences may be more valuable than you realize, a new study suggests. The study, written by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), explains that university students undervalue international experience while they’re in school, but learn to appreciate its value only after graduating.
The study surveyed over 1,000 graduates from the US, UK, Italy, Germany, France, Australia, Singapore, China, and Brazil. Half of them reported that they did not recognize the importance of international experiences—including study abroad, foreign language courses, cultural exchanges, diversity in student body and professors, working with international employers, and a global curriculum—as part of their education.
Availability and Access
According to the study, 75% of the students surveyed had access to international opportunities, including study abroad, but only one-third participated. With all of the international experiences offered by most colleges and universities around the world, why the discrepancy? The Economist report states “International experience is increasingly part of the package that higher education institutions are expected to provide.” Still, Irene Mia, EIU global editorial director thinks the study indicates that “more effort is required on [the part of universities] to raise awareness within their students on the value of international experience for their future career prospects.” In other words, students believe that universities have a responsibility to provide these opportunities and to convince them of their value.
The Good News
All graduates and employers agree that international experience as a student is not only valuable but increasingly necessary for success in today’s global economy. Those whom the EIU surveyed who had international experiences as students were twice as likely to have employment within six months of graduation than those who did not have international opportunities.
The EIU report also suggests the idea that employers will probably begin to increase access to international experiences for new hires.