International Students More Employable: Erasmus Study | Top Universities

International Students More Employable: Erasmus Study

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Laura Tucker

Updated Mar 05, 2016



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Those who spend time studying abroad enjoy enhanced graduate employment prospects and gain important transversal skills that are particularly highly valued by employers, according to the European Commission’s new Eramus Impact Study, compiled by independent experts.

Published this week and featuring feedback from almost 80,000 respondents, including students, employers and higher education institutions across the 34 European countries involved in the Erasmus student exchange program, the Erasmus Impact Study is the largest study of its kind. It looks at the internationalization of higher education and the relationships between international student mobility, graduate employment and skills development.

Importance of employability for today’s university students

When it comes to decisions about whether and where to study abroad, leading motivations remain the desire to live in a foreign country and meet new people, improve proficiency in a foreign language and develop global skills. But the study also found that some 85% of the students surveyed were also motivated by the hope that studying abroad would enhance their graduate employment prospects.

The study suggests this hope is reasonably well founded, as it also reports that Erasmus students end up with superior employability skills compared to 70% of all students after having studied abroad. Even before travelling, Erasmus students were found to ‘have a better predisposition for employability’ than other students. The study found that on returning from studying abroad, Erasmus students had increased their graduate employment advantage by an average of 42%.

Image source: European Commission

92% of employers value transversal skills

Data gathered from employers suggests that 92% are looking for “transversal skills” when hiring graduates, alongside other key requirements such as field knowledge and relevant work experience. According to the study, transversal skills refer to qualities such as being open to and curious about new challenges; confidence; the ability to problem solve and make decisions; and tolerance towards the values and behaviors of others. According to the report, based on tests conducted before and after study abroad periods, Erasmus students were found to show higher values of these personality traits and were consequently found to be half as likely to face long-term unemployment as graduates who hadn’t studied or trained abroad, boasting an unemployment rate 23% lower than the European average, five years after graduation.

Image source: European Commission

Erasmus students more internationally minded

Not only were Erasmus students found to more employable, they were also found to be in a better position for graduate employment on completion of their time abroad. Over one third of Erasmus trainees who completed a work placement abroad had been offered a position with their host company, and one in ten had been involved in launching their own companies, with three out of four envisioning doing so in the future.

With this international and entrepreneurial mind-set, Erasmus students were also found to have a tendency towards further international travel, with 40% of Erasmus alumni shown to have moved to another country after graduation, compared to just 23% of home students. This international experience also seems to impress employers, with 64% saying that they gave greater professional responsibility to candidates with an international background.

In their personal lives, Erasmus students were also found to be more internationally minded, with 33% of Erasmus alumni said to have a life partner of a different nationality to their own, compared to just 13% of non-mobile students. From this, the European Commission calculates that since 1987, one million babies have been born to Erasmus couples.

Image source: European Commission

Why study with Erasmus+?

The Erasmus Impact Study not only does well to highlight the success of the Erasmus program, it also works to market the newly reformed version of the program. As of last year, what was originally called Erasmus Mundus is now known as Erasmus+, and the program continues to help students across Europe to gain international experience. Between now and 2020, Erasmus+ aims to offer EU grants to four million people, including students, trainees, teachers and volunteers.

“The findings of the Erasmus Impact Study are extremely significant, given the context of unacceptably high levels of youth unemployment in the EU,” Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said in a press release. “The message is clear: if you study or train abroad, you are more likely to increase your job prospects.”