UUKi has launched a three-year campaign to increase the number of UK-domiciled undergraduates who study, work or volunteer overseas for two or more weeks during their studies.
Currently just 6.6% of students complete a placement of this kind. This is despite evidence that outward student mobility can improve both academic and employability outcomes. In April 2017, UUKi launched the national strategy for outward student mobility to double this figure to 13% by 2020. Via this campaign, UUKi aims to galvanise the higher education sector to act collectively to achieve this vision.
When compared to students who don’t complete a placement, students who go abroad are 9% more likely to gain a 1st or 2:1 degree and 24% less likely to be unemployed. Those in work six months on from graduation are 9% more likely to be in a ‘graduate’ job earning, on average, a 5% wage premium.
These gains are particularly significant for students from disadvantaged backgrounds – but they are the least likely to participate in outward student mobility. Compared with peers who stay in the UK, graduates from more disadvantaged backgrounds who go abroad earn on average 6.1% more. Outwardly mobile black students are 41% less likely to be unemployed after graduation than their non-mobile black peers.
The UK’s need for the skills developed through outward student mobility has never been higher. In 2017, research by CBI/Pearson found that 39% of employers were dissatisfied with graduates’ international cultural awareness and 47% were dissatisfied with graduates’ language skills. Seven out of ten small and medium-sized enterprises believe future executives will need foreign language skills and international experience.
However, UK students are lagging behind their international counterparts when it comes to international experience. 15% of students in the USA, 19% of Australian students and 25% of German students currently experience an international placement as part of their studies. All these countries are looking to increase mobility still further – for example, Germany is aiming for 50% by 2020.
Jo Johnson MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, endorses the campaign saying: “We know that students who have experience of studying, working and volunteering abroad have better educational and employment outcomes. Employers value the skills that students develop through these placements, including language skills and cultural awareness. At the same time universities can build partnerships with other institutions around the world, facilitating the exchange of research and teaching. That’s why we’re working with the higher education sector to promote outward mobility and the benefits it brings young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. I thoroughly support the Go International: Stand Out campaign to get more young people interested in an overseas placement and would encourage universities and employers to get involved.”
Vivienne Stern, Director of UUKi commented: “We’re asking all UK universities, large and small, to commit to increasing the number of students who have the opportunity to study, work or volunteer abroad as part of their studies. It’s really a win win. It’s great for students who grow in confidence and cultural understanding. It’s good for universities as students with an expanded, global mindset help internationalise home campuses – and mobility establishes and embeds international links across university activities. Plus, it’s a boon for employers as they look to build globally skilled and engaged workforces.”