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Canada best and worst in IAJN international alumni satisfaction report

The latest report from the International Alumni Job Network has revealed the level of international graduate satisfaction for the major Anglophone study destinations, with a Canadian education scoring both the best and worst results, conversely.

Canada ranked both best and worst overall in IAJN's recent international alumni survey. Photo: PexelsCanada ranked both best and worst overall in IAJN's recent international alumni survey. Photo: Pexels

IAJN's report found Australia performing at a mediocre pace at best, failing to break above global averages

The report, which surveyed over 5,200 IAJN members throughout Asia and provides a destination counter-perspective to September’s source-country focused survey findings, concluded that globally, 72% of international alumni were satisfied with the return on investment of their education, with Canada the standout, achieving 78% satisfaction.

While Canada was ranked highest for return on investment, however, when a graduate’s overall positive experience in the country was measured, it sank to the bottom, two percentile points below the global average of 89%.

“There need to be outcomes, particularly when you look at the reasons international students choose… to invest this huge sum of money”

IAJN founder Shane Dillon told The PIE News that the findings of the survey, with Australia and the UK also perceived as the worst for return on investment, were unsurprising when taking into consideration the level of support available in each country.

“Once the reality of them entering the workforce hits, [students] realise they’ve spent all this money on their education and that there wasn’t a great deal of support in finding employment,” he said.

“There’s a very clear correlation between satisfaction [of] alumni and career support that’s a lot more developed in the US and Canada, as opposed to Australia and the UK.”

The findings, which also break down students’ opinion on each country by factors including visas, safety and living expenses, correlate to IDP research earlier this year, which similarly found a Canadian education on top as a study destination.

Among the factors changing students’ outlooks, IDP’s head of research Lyndell Jacka highlighted employment opportunities having a particular effect on increasing negative and positive sentiments towards a US or Canadaian education, respectively.

EduNova chief executive Wendy Luther told The PIE at the time that legislative changes around pathways after education were one of the drives of Canada’s success.

“Last November the rules changed, making more points available for international students. This is not the same approach as what’s happening in the UK and US,” she said.

But Dillon urged educators to continue taking a hands-on approach to assisting their international student cohorts after they’ve graduated.

“[Graduate employment] has become an increasing talking point for universities… [because] they see their reputation is tied with the employment outcomes of their students and this needs to be improved,” Dillon said.

The report’s findings should be a welcome reprieve for the US, which ranked third for return on investment and first overall for positive experiences, after this month’s Open Doors report uncovered commencement numbers had dropped despite an overall increase in enrollments.

Concerningly for Australia, however, IAJN’s report found the country performing at a mediocre pace at best, failing to break above global averages for either positive experiences or return on investment.

“[Universities] see their reputation is tied with the employment outcomes of their students and this needs to be improved”

At 71% satisfaction for return on investment, Australia stood out as the only country to perform below the global average, five percentile points behind neighbouring New Zealand.

Dillon told The PIE that the disparity between the enjoyment students received from their education and the return on investment also presented a blind spot for most countries.

“There seems to be a lot of research… while the students are there,” he said.

“For us, that’s only part of the journey of education. There need to be outcomes, particularly when you look at the reasons international students choose… to invest this huge sum of money.”

Pathways for graduate employability were last week highlighted by UUKI director Vivienne Stern as an opportunity for the UK to combat potential international student declines post-Brexit.

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