We know from the Erasmus Impact study that international experiences enhance student employability. (I would go further and say they enhance promotability, too.) Five years after graduation, mobile students typically experience an unemployment rate 23% lower than non-mobile students do. 64% of employers say that graduates with an international background are given greater professional responsibility more frequently. In fact, ten years after graduation, Erasmus alumni are 44% more likely to hold managerial positions than non-mobile students.
For many universities, the question of international experiences is not a case of if, but how: especially for statistically underrepresented students, such as Widening Participation students.
Today, Universities UK International published research (‘Gone International: Mobility Works’) that clearly shows the positive impact of international experiences for WP students. The research demonstrates they are likely to earn more and that higher proportions of mobile students are taking graduate level jobs.
But to take part in a year-long or semester-long exchange such as Erasmus can often be impractical; be that because of financial barriers, part-time employment or that many WP students are parents or carers. Universities are increasingly looking for different models to ensure these students are able to benefit from international experiences in a way that works for them.
I believe short-term study abroad is the answer. Working with universities such as Kings College London and University of Exeter on short-term outbound mobility programmes, we have seen the impact of offering more accessible formats. (We currently receive anywhere up to five applications per place.) Although the programmes are four days long, we see that students are reporting significant leadership development and learning gain.
- 96% say they are better able to work in collaboration
- 93% are better able to thrive in complexity
- 96% say they are better able to leverage diversity
- 96% say they have grown their Cultural Intelligence.
The importance of international experiences is clear, but the challenge to ensure all students benefit is very real. Short-term opportunities offer a scalable, practical way to ensure equal access and opportunity for all.