Study Abroad Matters: A New White Paper by IIE and AIFS Links Higher Education to the Workforce

NEW YORK, March 19, 2018 — IIE today announced the publication of a new white paper examining the link between employability and study abroad. Produced in conjunction with the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) Foundation, Study Abroad Matters: Linking Higher Education to the Contemporary Workforce through International Experience, shows that in this globalized era, study abroad has become one of the most powerful ways to demonstrate to employers that graduates have in-demand skills for the contemporary workplace.

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College graduates are entering a workforce that is globalized to an unprecedented degree, giving students with international experience a leg up in the job market. Through cutting-edge research, student stories, and best practices recommendations, Study Abroad Matters investigates the link between the skills that employers say they want and they skills that study abroad cultivates.

Helping more students realize the potential of international experience is one of IIE’s signature goals. IIE launched Generation Study Abroad in 2014 to increase participation in study nationally and extend opportunities to populations typically underrepresented in study abroad. Currently, only 10 percent of U.S. undergraduates go abroad during their postsecondary education.

As the cost of tuition continues to rise, and as more Americans say that a postsecondary credential or degree is essential to land a good job, there is new pressure on higher education institutions to ensure that graduates secure jobs after graduation. Given the economic imperative to help individuals succeed and contribute more broadly to the economic well-being of communities, states and nation, Study Abroad Matters contains important lessons for students, educators, and employers.

The white paper builds on existing IIE research on the link between employment outcomes and study abroad, including the 2017 Gaining an Employment Edge: The Impact of Study Abroad on 21st Century Skills & Career Prospects, which surveyed more than 4,500 study abroad participants on the impact international experience had on their careers. Over half of survey respondents reported that they believe their study abroad experience contributed to a job offer at some point. Study Abroad Matters also draws on data from a AIFS survey of study abroad alumni outcomes published in 2013, as well as preliminary data from a forthcoming follow-up survey, which will appear later in March.

IIE and the AIFS Foundation’s white paper synthesizes research to provide new insights and recommendations to higher education professionals and faculty implementing study abroad programs. The paper calls for greater communication between higher education and industry as colleges and universities develop academic programs that will help students cultivate the skills that employers require in the contemporary economy.

About the Institute of International Education (IIE)

IIE has been a world leader in international education since 1919. IIE works to build more peaceful and equitable societies by advancing scholarship, building economies and promoting access to opportunity. As a not-for-profit with 18 offices and affiliates worldwide, IIE collaborates with a range of corporate, government and foundation partners across the globe to design and manage scholarship, study abroad, workforce training and leadership development programs.


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