Some of China’s top universities have scrapped English as a compulsory subject so students can focus instead on their major subject. This begs the question, are emerging economies now realising their status and retreating away from the West?
Enrollment officer, Yu Han at Tsinghua University, Beijing, said that English was made non compulsory to reduce students’ workload and attract talented students who excel in their targeted subjects. Students that study sciences and engineering are now only required to take maths and physics exams and art students are required to take Chinese and maths exams.
Truett Cates from Austin College, Texas noticed the brochures provided by different institutions for studying abroad had almost all women pictured in them. When he questioned the universities on why that was the case, they answered it was a marketing decision; that’s who their customers are.
Regardless of the university, the field of study or even the nationality of women, in higher education, they outnumber men. Women are also less likely to drop out and, in recent years, they outnumber men when studying abroad as well.
For instance, at the University of Florida in 2007-8, 1,408 women went abroad, and 814 men, out of a total of 2,222. In Europe, when looking at the Erasmus exchange program figures for 2009-2010, around 60% of students in the program were women.
One third of young British people think they would have a better job if they had spent time living or studying abroad. The poll, conducted by Populus for the British Council found 79% of British adults had never lived or studied abroad for 6 months or more. Of those people, 34% believe they would have a better job if they had spent time in another country – this equates to 17 million people. Less than a quarter think their prospects would have been unaffected.
It seems young people (under 25) have the greatest sense of regret at not having experienced living abroad, with over half (54%) believing their lack of international experience has held them back. The research was commissioned with the aim of helping young British people compete in an increasingly global workplace.
As markets, multinational companies and economies continue to grow, the competition for skilled employees increases in tandem. But why are British candidates being overlooked, and how are companies suffering?
The answer is simple: The global employability of British candidates is lower than students and school leavers from other countries. This is a globalised world that lacks global-minded candidates. Companies trading abroad find it very difficult to find employees with the skill sets necessary to integrate, and understand a working environment that is multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary, and multi-locational. According to the Global Skills Gap, a study from the British Council, more business leaders (79%) agree that awareness and knowledge of a wider world is important than believe that a degree subject or qualification is important (74%).
In times of global mobility and an increasing skills shortage, many European countries have intensified their aims to attract workers from abroad. Foreign students who are already familiar with the country’s language and work culture seem to be a reasonable target. Despite many wishing to stay and work after graduating, international students are often faced with too many obstacles.
Who wants to stay?
According to an online survey of the Sachverständigenrat deutscher Stiftungen für Integration und Migration (Advisory Board of German Foundations for Integration and Migration) held in five European countries (Germany, UK, France, Netherlands and Sweden) one half (UK) up to two-thirds (Germany) of master’s students and doctoral candidates could imagine searching for a job in the country where they have studied. Family reasons and the desire to help their own country with their new knowledge play an important role for those who want to return. Students who plan on staying are mainly focused on their professional career.
According to studies, Erasmus students may be widening their career prospects by studying abroad. In a study co-authored by leading economist Matthias Parey, research shows that graduates that have studied abroad are roughly 15% more likely to work abroad following their graduation. In the current financial climate, any so called ‘edge’ in the job market is essential and the advantage of having studying abroad can make you stand out over your peers.
The Erasmus Mundus programme is one of the main contributors to this trend and is nearing its 30th anniversary. Erasmus is a European Union funded, student exchange programme founded in 1987. The programme offers students from 33 different countries the possibility to study abroad in another European country for a period of their university degrees. The European Union also provides funding for students wishing to take part and the programme has proven extremely popular since its inception. Since its introduction, over two million students have participated, over a network of European universities, with Britain being the top destination.
International students have long been attracted to education heavyweights like the United States, the UK and Australia. Between 2002 and 2009 Canada saw a large increase in international student enrollment, according to a study by World Education Services. Enrollments increased by 67 percent, from 52,650 in 2002 to 87,798 in 2009.
Attracting international students is big business, they can contribute billions of dollars to the domestic economy as well as strengthening international cooperation and research. Each year Canada attracts around 90,000 international students to its universities. These students contribute at least CAD$6.5billion to the economy. With this in mind, Canada won’t want to lose its share of the market to other countries. New competitors such as India, China, Brazil and Saudi Arabia, who traditionally export a lot of students abroad are setting their sights on attracting international students.
More students are studying abroad today than ever before, but do employers see the same value in international academic experiences as students do?
In the past, employers viewed study abroad more as a free-for-all type of party and not an academic learning experience. A year in Italy, for example, would be associated with drinking wine and eating pizza rather than with learning about local culture and language.
However, employers are starting to understand how learning outcomes associated with study abroad participation directly contribute to professional, educational, and personal growth.
Have you ever considered studying abroad, but couldn’t recognize the added value of it? If you take some time to ask people who have done it, they will certainly tell you that it is a very rewarding experience. Here are eight reasons that will make you consider this challenge:
1. Studying abroad will allow you to learn a foreign language. The most effective way to learn a new language is to be surrounded by the culture that speaks it. Especially if the level of English in the country is relatively low, you will be forced to communicate in another language and by that, improve your foreign language skills.
2. Makes it easier to travel. Academic breaks and public holidays make it possible to explore your new surroundings. Studying abroad often takes place on a different continent; this is a great opportunity to visit places you never thought you’d reach. Sometimes study abroad programs involve planned field trips as part of the curriculum.
An Institute of International Education study shows that European institutions are offering more English-taught master’s degrees to meet local and international student demand. The study analyzed MastersPortal.eu, a website where 960 EU universities post over 18,000 of their own master’s degree programs.
As of March 2012, a total of 5,444 master’s programs are being offered in English, a 38% increase from 2010. Of these programs, 79% are taught entirely in English and 21% in at least one language in addition to English.
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