New Research Shows International Experience In Higher Ed Is Important For Career Success, But Many Students Recognize it Too Late

global research
commissioned by Kaplan, one of the world’s largest
and most diverse education providers, and conducted by The Economist
Intelligence Unit (EIU) shows that international experience in higher
education is an important factor improving the chances of finding a job
and succeeding in an increasingly global workforce.

The research, which is based on a survey conducted by the (EIU) among
recent graduates from Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy,
Singapore, the UK and the US, also shows that few students recognize the
value of overseas experience before graduation. Many turn down
opportunities to gain a more global perspective offered by their
educators. Graduates say international work experience would have been
helpful, but note it was not frequently offered. In addition, the study
found that international preparedness is highly promoted in some
countries, but less so in others.

“Graduates with international experience tend to find employment faster
than those without it. Languages, intercultural awareness and overseas
contacts are highly valued by potential employers,” said Andrew Rosen,
Kaplan’s chief executive officer. “This research seeks to understand how
universities, companies and students themselves can better prepare for
the global workplace.”

The key findings of the survey are as follows:

  • Graduates believe that institutions of higher education have a
    responsibility to prepare them for today’s global economy and
    Three out of four respondents agree that it is part of
    the role of universities and colleges to prepare them by offering
    access to international experience. And almost as many (70%) feel that
    their higher education has challenged their beliefs and exposed them
    to different cultures and ways of thinking beyond their home country.
  • Most students have access to international experiences during their
    studies, but only a minority take advantage of them.
    to gain international experience during their studies were available
    to 75% of respondents. Most (69%) were offered the chance to study
    overseas, while 62% had access to foreign language courses and 55% to
    international cultural exchanges. But only 34% of those with access to
    international experience actually pursued it.
  • Many students do not realize the importance of international
    exposure until after graduation, when its full value becomes clearer.
    of respondents feel that they failed to recognize the value of
    international experience during their studies, suggesting that higher
    education institutions may need to help students recognize the
    benefits of participation.
  • International experience in higher education is seen as improving
    the chances of finding a job.
    More than twice as many people who
    were employed within six months had international experience
    than those still unemployed.

About the research

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) conducted a survey as part of a
global research effort into international experiences available in
higher education institutions and their impact on employment. Of the
1,072 recent graduates who participated in the survey, 10% were drawn
from Australia, 8% from Brazil, 10% from China, 10% from France, 10%
from Germany, 11% from Italy, 10% from Singapore, 11% from the UK and
21% from the US. They were born between 1985 and 1993 and graduated
between 2011 and 2016 with either a bachelor’s or undergraduate degree
(65%); a master’s degree or equivalent (29%); a PhD or equivalent (4%);
or another professional degree (2%). Of those surveyed, 29% had studied
Humanities or Liberal Arts, 35% STEM (science, technology, engineering
or mathematics) subjects, 28% were pre-professional, and 20% took
vocational or career-focused studies. The online survey was conducted in
March 2016.

The EIU also conducted in-depth interviews with experts and global
employers in this area to provide a further dimension to the broad
research findings. We are grateful to the following for their time and
insights (listed alphabetically):

  • Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, president, National University of Singapore
  • David Fairhurst, chief people officer, McDonald’s
  • Lynda Gratton, professor of management practice, London Business School
  • Nick Hillman, director, Higher Education Policy Institute, Oxford
  • Andre Martin, vice president for talent development and chief learning
    officer, Nike, and formerly chief learning officer, Mars
  • Professor Enrico Sangiorgi, vice rector for education, University of
  • Juichi Yamagiwa, president of Kyoto University

About Kaplan

Kaplan, Inc. is among the world’s largest, most diverse education
providers. Kaplan offers its one million-plus students and thousands of
business and institutional partners an array of trans-national education
services, including: higher education, test preparation, professional
training and certification, English-language tutoring, and international
university pathway programs. Kaplan is the largest subsidiary of the
Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC).


Brock Thatcher, 212-641-9885