Researchers from the Centre of Applied Linguistics at the University of Warwick polled more than 2,360 students from six universities in the UK, Ireland, Belgium and Germany.
The results revealed that students felt they were lacking experience across five key areas: communication skills, foreign language learning skills, social integration, academic integration and global skills and support – with a particular concern regarding the final three.
“Senior managers need to implement strategies that support students in developing ‘global graduate’ skills”
The report, ‘The Internationalisation of Higher Education: Developing Global Graduates’, acknowledges that businesses are increasingly aware of recruiting graduates with ‘global skills’ while also complaining of that too few possess them. It notes that internationalisation is a goal, but understanding is lacking.
“Universities all over the world have identified internationalisation as a key goal. However, there is currently little understanding of what makes a ‘global graduate’,” it reads.
Of the 75% of students who felt internationalisation and global skills were ‘important’ or ‘very important’, it was found that Asian students were the most concerned about internationalisation.
“The clear majority of students believe it’s important to mix across cultural boundaries”
The report’s authors, Helen Spencer-Oatey and Daniel Dauber, director of the CAL, further identify ‘global skills’ with examples including: collaborative skills, communication skills, self-awareness, networking and a number of other skill sets which demonstrate malleability and open-mindedness.
“Our research shows that the clear majority of students, both domestic and international, believe it’s important to mix across cultural boundaries and develop skills for the globalising world of work,” said Spencer-Oatey.
“However, most feel they are not getting the experiences and support they need.”
Among the survey’s key findings is that HEIs need to emphasise ‘global graduate’ skills in order to “meet student expectations and employers’ requirements.”
“Most ranking measures of internationalisation are based on structural or compositional measures.” Dr Dauber explained.
“But senior managers need to think beyond this because students want and need more. They need to implement strategies that support students in developing their ‘global graduate’ skills and qualities.”
Recommendations include promoting the social and academic integration of domestic and international students “to achieve more meaningful internationalisation,” and to give academic staff greater support to “foster integration among students from diverse backgrounds more effectively”.
The internationalisation survey was carried out using the Global Educational Profiler, described as “a diagnostic and needs analysis tool” developed by the CAL. It is a survey that i-graduate is administering and delivering in partnership with Warwick.
The university also runs a ‘Go Global’ initiative. It identifies opportunities for students to have global experiences and gain global skills, either abroad, on campus or in the local area around the campus.