The international student market continues to grow with forecasts predicting that this will continue for many decades to come. The U.S. is no exception to this with both the number of international students studying in the U.S. growing as well as the number of American students electing to study overseas increasing. However, the number of outbound students is significantly smaller than the inbound number. Addressing the issue of how to encourage more American students to study overseas was the objective of this research project. For the first time, a consortium of country level exchange organizations from four countries formally joined together to specifically look at this challenge, these included; the Australian Education Office, The British Council, DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), the Institute of International Education, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. State Department.
The objective of this study was to determine the employer acceptability and market value of an international degree among US audiences specifically students and employers. To achieve this, the study explores such topics as:
- Do US students with an international qualification find it difficult to obtain employment when they return to the US?
- Are there real or perceived problems with employer recognition and acceptability of an overseas qualification?
- Do employers value overseas experience in prospective employers and if so why (what do they perceive to be its value) and to what degree?
- Is this reflected in their recruitment policies?
- The obstacles to overseas study from both audiences’ perspectives
The project comprised qualitative research conducted amongst prospective students, students who had undertaken an overseas study experience and employers, including both HR Directors and CEOs; the quantitative phase involved 100 interviews with HR Directors and 100 interviews with students who had undertaken overseas study. The project looked to identify among students and employers what were their perceptions of overseas study (both full degree experiences as well as short-term programs), who or what influences these perceptions, what their real experience had been in terms of employment, what were the barriers to purchase and ultimately how to overcome these.