Graduates who have studied overseas as part of their degree are more employable in today's global job market, according to a recent study carried out by the Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE).
The report, entitled Global Horizons and the Role of Employers, found that internships and study-abroad programmes, such as SOCRATES and ERASMUS, increase graduates’ global awareness.
Graduates who have studied abroad tend to be more comfortable working in a multicultural environment and are more open to working all over the world as part of their career. Language skills are also a highly valued asset in the global marketplace.
However, the CIHE report comes at a time when British students are studying overseas less than ever. The report stated that the number of English home students going on European schemes such as Erasmus had fallen from 9,500 to 5,500 in the last ten years.
In Germany or France equivalent figures are over 20,000 and are consistently rising.
British universities and funding bodies are being urged to impress on students the importance of studying abroad and also to help facilitate the process. Pat Killingley, director of higher education at the British Council, said plans were already being put in to action to encourage more UK students to spend periods of study abroad.
Bill Rammell, minister of state for the Department for Universities, Innovation and Skills backed the findings, saying: "For students, a period of study or work abroad brings positive benefits both personally and professionally.
"It enhances their understanding of other languages and cultures, and increases their confidence and self–reliance.
"In a global economy, these skills and competencies are increasingly sought by employers, and students with this experience will find that their employability is higher than without it.”
As part of a survey by graduate research service, i-graduate, head of UK resourcing for PricewaterhouseCoopers Charles Macleod said: “The value of [a student’s] international experience goes beyond purely the acquisition of language – it lies in the ability to see business and personal issues from other than your own cultural perspective."
The report urges British companies to offer more work placements and internships to international students in order to put Britain at the centre of the exchange between international businesses and graduates with a 'global vision'.
A survey of international graduates as part of the report showed they think they are more likely to win higher paid jobs at more senior positions than UK graduates or those in their home country who did not travel to the UK.
Richard Brown, chief executive of the CIHE, said: "The UK can be the preferred worldwide location for mobile students and global recruiters.
"Businesses consider that the UK develops some of the best graduates in the world. But our home-grown ones need to get that wider global perspective.
"Universities could help by developing more partnerships with overseas universities that involve more student and staff exchanges," he added.