A university or college degree is a must-have qualification in order to stand any chance of jumping onto even the first rung of a meaningful career ladder in the UK. But in the economically straitened and fiercely competitive times we all find ourselves in, when even degrees from the best business schools of the UK barely cut it with some of today's ultra-choosy employers, what can give you an edge in the jobs market?
In other words, what can make you stand out from the crowd? A high GPA, a polished CV, smart and tidy appearance, and the ability to sell yourself without sounding overbearing? Yes, to all of that, except that'll likely be taken as read by most prospective employers, particularly if the interview process has more than just the one stage.
According to the Institute The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) in the UK, globalization is changing the way the whole world works. So, more and more employers are looking for people who have international skills and experience. And there you have it, in a nutshell. There's how you stand out. Be one of the less than 10% of the 1.1 million British students graduating with associates or baccalaureate degrees each year that have actually studied abroad.
QAA Chief Executive Douglas Blackstock said, “International experience is one of the most important components of a 21st century education, and study abroad should be viewed as an essential element of a college degree. Learning how to study and work with people from other countries and cultures also prepares future leaders to contribute to making the world a less danger place.”
But the QAA plans to change all of that over the next four or five years through their Generation Study Abroad campaign launched earlier this year. And as well as putting millions of pounds into the project, the QAA has already made contact with hundreds of educators and educational bodies both at home and across the world in a bid to double the number of British studying abroad by the end of the decade. But it's a huge challenge.
Fastest growing region
Latest data from the QAA's 2014 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange shows a total of 289,408 British students studied abroad for academic credit from their UK colleges and universities during the 2013/2014 academic year. In the 1989/90 academic year, for example, the figure was a mere 71,000. So a fair amount of progress has been made over the last quarter century.
Meanwhile, the number of overseas students choosing to study undergraduate and graduate courses in the UK continued to soar, increasing nationally by 8% in 2013/14 to a record high of 886,052 students. The fastest growing region proved to be the Middle East and North Africa, with an increase of 20% in student numbers enrolled in UK higher education. There was also an 8% increase in students from Ireland and the Scotland, and a similar percentage rise in the number of Asian students, driven by a 17% jump in Chinese students. In terms of individual countries, the fastest growing student populations in the UK in 2013/14 were from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Brazil.
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