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The impact of studying abroad on graduate employability Analytical Essay


The United Kingdom’s government policies promote the development of higher education. The government advocates for the increment of the catchment population for higher education and growth of proportions of labour market entrants with degrees.

Government policies may lead to the increase in the supply of graduate labour. The media and society in the UK continue to castigate the government over several employment policies. Education analysts underscore a mismatch between higher education graduates and the labour market in the UK (Harvey, 2011). The mismatch leads to scepticism over the reliability of government investment in higher education (Varghese, 2008).

Analysis of the graduate labour market

Many research studies do not reveal the value of knowledge and skills of university graduates in the labour market. Literature reviews fail to reveal how employers make use of the wide pool of resources available to them. Indicators disregard the effect of the expansion of higher education on the status of employment prospects in the labour market (Parey and Waldinger, 2011).

Research reveals a decline in employment opportunities in UK’s leading firms. In 2011, statistics indicated an increment of the employers’ graduate recruitment by about 2.8% and 12.6% in 2010. This aspect happened in the aftermath of the 17.8% falls in 2009 and about 6.7% in 2008.

The accounting and professional services’ companies noted the largest decline of vacancies in 2012. Government agencies revealed a decrease of investments and bank employments by about 1200 positions as compared to the average targets.

Employment bureaus recorded an improvement in the state of the 2013 hiring season with employers expected to increase graduate recruitment by about 2.7%. This research indicates that the biggest recruitment vacancies are likely to be realised in the public sector employers, engineering, industrial companies and retailers.

Studies show an increase in the proportion of recent graduates who do jobs that require lower skills than their training. Research data reveals a 26.7 per cent increase in underemployment among UK graduates.

This fact means that one out of every four graduates feels the effects. Statistics indicate an increase of about 41 percent or 438,000 of unemployed graduates. The sum of these graduates currently stands at about 1.5 million people (UK National Statistics, 2013).

Britain’s statistics shows one student studying abroad for every 15 British students. However, the British government is starting an initiative to tackle this imbalance of foreign study. Today, few British students, study abroad. Statistics do not assess the number of full-time students outside UK.

The Erasmus program of study and the work placements abroad indicate that about 13,622 students study outside the UK. A recent study by the Higher Education Careers Service Unit reveals that about 1 out of 12 graduates is jobless 6 months after graduating from university. In addition, the study revealed that the number of former students in non-graduate jobs was on the rise by about 6% in 2012 (UK National Statistics, 2013).

Employability of overseas graduates versus domestic ones

About one out of six employers reveals that students who study abroad are more employable than UK graduates. Employers indicate that studying abroad gives students more professional experience than graduating in the UK. About 65% of the employers indicate that having foreign experience increases the employability of graduates.

This paper concurs with the view that studying abroad improves a student’s employability. Students who study abroad learn skills and knowledge that employers look for in prospective staff. This aspect leads to the development of international careers (King and Ahrens, 2010).

A report by the Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) indicates that graduates from foreign universities find it easy to work in diverse cultural environments. They also have the necessary language skills required in diverse work contexts.

Employment policies focus on the supply of human resources to the labour market rather than the demand for it. They fail to capture the outlook of employability. In most cases, they overlook the state of graduate demand to competitive job positions where graduates desire to join.

The manner in which employers recruit and manage graduate talent remains to be a pertinent issue in the UK. This issue may persist as the number of graduates leaving institutions of higher learning rises. Graduates continue losing their relevance in competitive jobs.

The flexible and open nature of the labour market and labour policies are not favourable to the graduates leaving universities in the UK. Certain employers may embrace the idea of students who study abroad because of their unique attitudes and creativity.

The employers may discriminate against UK’s graduates in employment opportunities. This inequality in the employability between graduates from the UK and overseas ones may continue until policy formulators enact measures of absorbing the graduates entering the labour market.

UK higher learning institutions may face a limitation in their aptitude to develop the employability of students in contrast to foreign institutions of higher learning. Issues concerning the employability of graduates may have minor effects in labour market projections (Teichler and Janson, 2012).

Skills and knowledge acquired by overseas students

Students who study abroad acquire different skills and knowledge that enhance their value in business organizations and governments. The skills include a comprehensive grasp of global issues and an understanding of diverse cultures.

Organizations seek graduates with international knowledge and global cognisance. Employers value students that possess the initiative to explore different settings. Students who study abroad acquire fundamental perspectives of world issues. They can understand issues of globalization, poverty, social inequity, gender issues, development and the environment in a practical manner.

Learning abroad may lead to rapid development of language skills. Studying overseas enhances one’s eloquence. Language skills enhance intercultural competency, understanding, research and thematic appreciation. In addition, they promote the development of research skills, observation, cultural analysis and oral histories.

University graduates in the UK have an appealing position in the economic development of the country. Job analysts disagree over the performance of UK’s graduates when they enter the labour market. Graduates who hold an elite social occupation cluster in society can fulfil their potential through career development. Inequalities within the UK labour market may continue to inhibit the potential of graduates.

UK’s graduates do not apply their skills and knowledge in the labour markets. The analysts underscore discrepancies between applicable knowledge in the labour market and that acquired in higher education institutions. This notion makes graduates lose focus of the investment gained from universities and colleges.

Graduates who study abroad are likely to secure diverse types of jobs in the labour market. These graduates can work as foreign policy experts, multicultural professionals, tour guides, historians, language experts, heritage professionals and senior managers. Their employability can be linked to the skills they develop while learning abroad. Most employers prefer hiring students with relevant skills to the labour market (Holmes, 2008).

The probability that graduates from abroad can work in a foreign country Studying abroad increases graduates’ likelihood of working in a foreign country. International business organizations look for graduates who possess an open perspective to global issues. This aspect gives foreign students an advantage in the job market as compared to local graduates (Saunders et al., 2009).

Employers propose that graduates who study abroad possess a better understanding of cultural issues. The students can interact with global customers of diverse cultural backgrounds. This factor makes them adopt an international appeal.

It also makes their integration into a multicultural environmental easier than domestic graduates. Job applicants need to exercise a global dimension in their thought patterns. This thinking can only develop when students study or work abroad (McQuaid and Lyndsay, 2012).

In addition, students who study overseas find working outside their country easier as compared to those who study in the UK. This idea makes UK’s graduates less competitive in the international labour market than their overseas counterparts (Keep and Mayhew, 2011).

Surveys reveal that students who study abroad have high optimism for securing lucrative jobs at senior positions. In addition, they express the opinion that they can spend a short period looking for jobs than students who study in the UK (Elias and Purcell, 2009).

Disadvantages of overseas graduates

A number of disadvantages can be linked to overseas studies. The UK produces the best home-grown graduates in the world. Students studying abroad may not benefit from the home-grown pool of resources essential in the workplace. They may fail to acquire the British work ethics and soft skills essential for career development in the UK.

Employers look for the skills and knowledge of an individual’s professional formation. Therefore, they may measure the qualifications of students who study abroad against those of the UK graduates. The evaluation may gain accreditation and rank among the top standards in the UK. The assessment may provide negative results for UK graduates based on the reasons evaluated in this paper (Hakim, 2010).


Studying abroad has fundamental implications on employability for graduates. The transformation of students from higher education into the labour market can be a complicated process. Students need to understand the rationale of studying abroad and how to approach the contemporary labour market. Therefore, they need to learn to develop their profiles and credentials through learning at the appropriate institutions.


Many employers agree that students who study and work abroad possess rich experiences in terms of their skills and knowledge. Students need to embrace opportunities of studying abroad as means of improving their employability and career prospects.

Job applicants must exhibit a wide pool of skills and knowledge to enhance their employability in the job market (Brown & Hesketh, 2009). British Universities need to encourage students to study abroad in order to gain valuable experiences from diverse settings.


Brown, P & Hesketh, A, 2009, The Mismanagement of Talent: employability and jobs in the knowledge-based economy, Oxford University Press. Oxford. Elias, P. & Purcell, K 2009.

The Salaries of Graduates in their Early Careers: researching graduate careers seven years on’, Research Paper No. 4, ESRC/IER’, University of West of England & Warwick University, Warwick Institute for Employment Research. Hakim, C 2010.

Lifestyle and Work Choices in the 21st Century: Preference Theory, Oxford University Press, Oxford. Harvey, L 2011, “Defining and Measuring Employability”, Quality in Higher Education, Vol.7. No. 2. pp. 97-109. Holmes, L 2008, “Reconsidering Graduate Employability: the graduate Identity approach”, Quality in Higher Education, Vol. 7. No. 2. pp. 111-119.

Keep, E & Mayhew, K 2011, The Economic and Distributional Implications of Current Policies on Higher Education, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Vol. 20. No. 2. pp. 298-314.

King, R & Ahrens, J 2010, International student mobility literature review, final report, Higher Education Funding Council for England, Bristol. McQuaid, R & Lyndsay, L 2012, “The concept of employability”, Urban Studies, Vol. 43. No. 2. pp. 197-219.

Teichler, U & Janson, K 2012, “The Professional value of temporary study in another European country: employment and role of Ex ERASMUS learners”, Studies in International Education Journal, Vol. 11. No. 3. Pp.486-495.

Parey, M & Waldinger, F 2011, “Studying abroad and the effect of international labour market mobility: evidence from the introduction of Erasmus”, Economic Journal, Vol.121. No.551. Pp. 194-222.

Saunders et al 2009, Research methods for business students (6th edition), Pearson education, New Jersey. , 2013, Labour Market. Web.

Varghese, N 2008, Globalization of higher education and cross-border student mobility, UNESCO/ International Institute of Education Planning, Paris.

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