Employability & international experience

For the 2018 EAIE Conference Starter Paul Blackmore wrote an article called “Building bridges between employability and international experiences in higher education”. A subject that is very important at the moment, as it is in high demand. Therefore, if we want to provide enhanced employment prospects for our students, international experience is a must. The subject of employability and international experience is closely related to trends in internationalisation. The knowledge that international experience enhances employability is nothing new, yet at this moment gaining this experience seems not to be available to all students. They vast majority of employers says they are “actively seek or attribute value to an international study experience when recruiting”. As a university, you aim is to educate your student population to match the work field, but if gaining international experience is not accessible to all students, than is this really what we do?

To quote Blackmore: “Of course, a student doesn’t need to travel overseas to develop global competencies. If the institutional culture, curriculum and motivation of the individual allows, any student can develop their emotional intelligence, cultural awareness and ability to work with others when exposed to wider international aspects of the university experience.”. This about the COIL projects I mentioned before, my main concern here is, that although they do exist, they are so rarely actively embedded in the existing curriculum. The facilitation of giving all students some form of international experience seems challenging for institutions. Opportunities can be found in strategic partnerships or virtual internships.

Of course there will always be students that are intrinsically driven to go abroad, which can be for various reasons, such as relatives abroad, or a wide personal network. The majority of students are looking for some form of facilitation and engagement from their institution. To remain competitive Blackmore says that institutions need to actively create opportunities for students to help them gain this experience. He also mentions efficiency through clear and consistent communication throughout the process to both students and partners.

I will continue on this subject in the next blog, which will also be the last one in this series of internationalisation in higher education. The next blog will focus on the next step, which naturally seems to be looking at how we can measure the success of internationalisation in higher education.