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Employers Value International Student Experience: QS Report

Employers Value International Student Experience: QS Report main image

New QS research shows that a majority of employers worldwide place value on international experience when assessing graduate job applications, John O'Leary reports.

Six out of ten employers around the world give extra credit for an international student experience, according to the biggest-ever survey on the subject.

A new report by QS found wide variations between countries in the value placed on an international degree, with employers in Spain, Switzerland and Germany the most enthusiastic.

More than 80% said they actively sought graduates who had studied abroad. Those in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand were the least likely to value study time outside their own country, although many still did so.

Intercultural communication

The findings suggest that proficiency in English is one of the key attributes sought by employers recruiting graduates. Those in the three English-speaking southern hemisphere countries have no need of this and have long been accustomed to young people travelling extensively.

Other countries where more than 70% of employers said they valued an international degree included Egypt, France, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Japan and Greece.

There were positive responses from a majority of employers in 32 of the 43 countries with the largest response rate.

Although linguistic ability was the most highly-valued attribute among international graduates, inter-cultural communication was also a high priority for employers.

Some felt an international degree was an asset only for those expected to work in the region in which they had studied, but many other employers regarded it as a strength for any of their graduate recruits.

Ongoing developments

The industries most likely to seek international experience were energy, where it was valued by 71% of employers; travel, leisure and hospitality; and electronics and high technology. However, more than 60% of consulting and professional service companies and those in finance and management also favoured international graduates.

International student mobility has been growing rapidly in recent years. More than 3.7 million young people were studying in countries other than their own at the time of the latest survey by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, in 2009. But there have been little statistical evidence on the demand from employers.

The QS Global Employer Survey Report 2011 sampled the views of more than 10,000 employers in 116 countries on five continents, making it by far the largest test of international opinion on this subject. Its findings should reassure students and their families in many countries, who often make considerable sacrifices to pay international tuition fees.

The authors of the report, John Molony and Ben Sowter, from QS, and Davina Potts, of Michigan State University, say in their introduction: “Despite the broad reach of the survey and the insight that it offers, it raises many more questions than it answers, and there are many lines of further quantitative and qualitative investigation to pursue.

"Having taken this first step into the area, the QS Intelligence Unit will maintain an interest in the topic, and there are likely to be others who will draw from this work as they seek to add to the knowledge base.”

QS Staff Writer's profile image
Written by QS Staff Writer

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