A number of reports and research studies show that there may be a direct relationship between studying or working abroad and what students go on to do next. A recent study by the Go International team at the UK Higher Education International Unit, for example, compared the unemployment figures, roles, salaries and sectors of employment which mobile and non-mobile students face six months after graduation and found that:
- a lower proportion of graduates who had been mobile were unemployed
- a higher proportion of graduates who had been mobile were in more senior roles
- the average salary for graduates who had been mobile was higher if they were working in the UK
- a higher proportion of graduates who had been mobile were employed in sectors relating to 'Professional, scientific and technical activities'; 'Information and communication'; 'Education'; 'Manufacturing'; and 'Financial and insurance activities'
- a higher proportion of graduates who had been mobile were working abroad
Overall, 5.4% of graduates who had spent time abroad were unemployed 6 months after graduation compared to 6.7% of those who did not. In addition, underrepresented groups were found to have had better outcomes than their non-mobile peers. For example, a lower proportion of many underrepresented groups who were mobile were unemployed, even when only looking at those who achieved 1st Class degrees:
Salaries and sectors of employment
Overall, the average starting salary for UK graduates ho had spent time abroad who were in employment in the UK was £20,420 compared to £20,350. Although this amount may not seem significant, it is important to note that this was just six months after graduation. Moreover, when only looking at non-language students who were working in the UK, the disparity increases. There were also disparities favouring graduates with an international experience when considering those who spent time outside of Europe as well as when only considering students who achieved Firsts:
The research showed that, overall, graduates who were mobile earned more than those who were not if they studied courses allied to the following subject areas:
- Biological Sciences
- Physical Sciences
- Computer Science
- Engineering and Technology
- Social Studies
- Business and Administrative Studies
- Historical and Philosophical Studies
- Creative Arts and Design
This research also showed that of the top 6 sectors of employment for graduates who had been mobile, these graduates earned more than those who did not spend time abroad. The table below shows this in detail by sector. The figures in brackets represent the results when only considering graduates who had been mobile who were working in the UK 6 months after graduation.
Complementing the above figures, the report also shows that salary and career outcomes were more favourable for STEM graduates who had spent time abroad compared to those who hadn't. For example, a lower proportion of STEM graduates were unemployed if they had spent time abroad (5.2%) compared to those who were not mobile (6.1%). This disparity was greater in notable instances. For example, the average proportion of unemployed Computer Science graduates who were not mobile was 12.3% compared to 6.8% of students who were mobile.
It is a similar picture when considering graduates' roles and average salaries. 88% of STEM graduates who were mobile were employed in three most senior roles as defined by the Higher Education Statistics Authority ('Managers and senior officials'; 'Professional occupations'; 'Associate professionals [or] in technical occupations'), compared with 82% of graduates who were not mobile.
STEM graduates who were mobile who graduated in 2012/13 had an average starting salary of £22,440 compared to £21,800 for those who were not been mobile. This disparity is greater in different subject areas, for example in Computer Science where graduates who were mobile had an average starting salary of £25,260 compared to £22,690 for those who were not mobile. Another example is Engineering graduates who were mobile who earned an average of £26,070 compared to £24,530 for those who were not. More information about the outcomes for STEM students can be seen below:
Erasmus and employability
A large-scale 2014 study on the impact of the Erasmus student exchange programme across the European Union demonstrates that graduates with international experience are more successful in the job market. They are half as likely to experience long-term unemployment compared with those who have not studied or trained abroad and, five years after graduation, their unemployment rate is 23% lower.
In today's global economy, employers require graduates who can operate and compete in an international marketplace.
The Erasmus Impact Study also found that one in three graduates who had spent time working in industry had been offered jobs by their host company.
The report also found that, on the whole, graduates with international experience were more likely to be in more senior roles five years after graduation when compared with graduates who had not spent time abroad during their studies.
A survey of leading graduate employers found that employers needed graduates with global competencies for the 21st century. These included the ability to work with colleagues from a wide range of cultural backgrounds, the ability to embrace multiple perspectives and challenge traditional ways of thinking and the ability to show a high degree of resilience.
The research, conducted by the Association of Graduate Recruiters and the National Centre for Universities and Business, concluded that: "UK graduates must raise their aspirations for the global competencies that employers will increasingly demand. If UK graduates cannot fulfil these expectations, employers can and will recruit from outside the UK"
Experience of working overseas and immersion in a different culture can catapult a graduate into being considered for rewarding and challenging roles.
- AGR/CIHE (2011) Global Graduates into Global Leaders
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