Short-term study abroad improves career prospects, finds study

Short-term study abroad improves career prospects, finds study

Short-term study abroad significantly improves graduates’ long-term career prospects, a study by the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) has found.

In a recent document published by the IEAA examining the Career Outcomes of Learning Abroad, the study sought to answer two core questions: “What is the perceived impact of learning abroad on skills development, job attainment and career prospects of participants?” and “Are former participants engaged in international work (organisations, tasks, location)?”

The study consists of the results of a survey sent to alumni of Australian universities between March and June 2019.

Students believe short-term study abroad improves career prospects

The research found that 63% of respondents believed that learning abroad has improved their long-term career prospects. The study’s sample are recent graduates, with 71% of respondents graduating between 2016 and 2018. 

Speaking to Global Education Times, Davina Potts, Associate Director for Careers, Employability & Global Learning at the University of Melbourne, said: “It’s beneficial to Australia to be producing graduates, both domestic and international, with globally-relevant skills and an international perspective.”

This response is supported by a study by Green, King & Gallagher (2019), which found that, in the opinion of graduate employers, learning abroad was more likely to have an impact on the careers of participants at the mid-career stage.

This 2019 study is the first large-scale examination of learning abroad outcomes for participants from Australian universities across all types of programmes. Previous studies only considered either semester or year exchange programmes.

Most students travelling abroad were undergraduate and female

Breaking down the respondents to the IEAA study who undertook a period of short-term learning abroad, the following key findings emerged:

  • 41% were the first in their family
  • The main language of overseas study was English (75%)
  • 80% were undergraduate students
  • 19% had had multiple study abroad experiences
  • 27% spoke two or more languages
  • The most visited region was Asia Pacific (45%)

Additionally, more female students pursued short-term study abroad (73% of respondents), according to the study.

Reflecting on nearly three-quarters of Australian short-term study abroad students being female, Potts told GET News: “Higher education in Australia has more female enrolments than male, so this accounts for some of the disparity. Across the world in learning abroad programs, females dominate – this includes the US, and also the Erasmus programs in Europe.

“I don’t think we really understand the gender gap, but it may relate to social sciences, arts and humanities being more popular with females, and these disciplines are often over represented in learning abroad programs.”

Most graduates positive about the impact of their learning abroad on their profession

Considering overall employability, 83% of respondents were positive or extremely positive about the impact of short-term learning abroad on the development of skills to support their current and future professional role.

Of those surveyed, 83% developed skills to support their current and future professional role; 63% said it had a positive impact on their long-term career prospects; and, 53% said it helped them obtain their first job in their field of study.

Ultimately, graduates who participated in short-term learning abroad programmes report a strong connection between their learning abroad experience and professional skills development.

As part of the study, a total of 4,976 responses were received, leading to a final dataset of 3,376 which represented respondents who has participated in learning abroad and who had graduated at the time of the survey.

The paper also presents data from a sample of 800 respondents who indicated participation in international study programmes of less than seven weeks in duration.

Pic: Victor Freitas

Hari Srinivasan - Managing Editor, Global Education Times (GET News)

Hari is the Managing Editor of Global Education Times. Hari has clocked nearly a decade working as a communications professional with a focus on the education sector. He has also had stints in journalism and advertising in a career which has seen him live, study, and work, in three countries.
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