Broadening Horizons, conducted with the National Union of Students, UK, and Zinch, US, garnered more than 10,800 responses to an online survey at the end of last year.
“Only 24 per cent of UK and 22 per cent of US students felt they had enough information to make an informed decision”
It found that 20 per cent of UK respondents were considering study overseas with 56 per cent of US respondents doing the same – although in both cases this represents an increase.
Major drivers for students to study overseas included “having a unique adventure” and “building employment prospects post study”. However, sizeable barriers to uptake were identified in both groups, including language ability, cost, concerns about obtaining a visa and difficulty leaving family and friends.
Most worryingly, only 24 per cent of UK and 22 per cent of US students felt they had enough resources, via the internet or other channels, to make an informed decision about overseas study.
“This research goes a long way in to helping us understand what is really holding young people in the UK back from the opportunities that are available that we know – and they believe – will make them more employable, and our country more globally competitive in the long term,” said the Council’s director of education, Dr Jo Beall at last week’s Going Global conference, referring to the implications in the UK.
She said the Council had launched a portal for UK students to access detailed information on education opportunities around the world, with advice on “everything from funding to visas and healthcare”. It also will offer guidance for parents to help them understand their options, and the benefits and risks of studying abroad.
Another report from the Council this week highlights the urgent need for change. Culture at Work surveyed 367 employers in nine countries, and found a majority valued global awareness as highly as technical qualifications in the workplace.
“They need to have the skills to negotiate different social and cultural environments”
However, most said that education providers were not sufficiently developing these skills (and only 16% and 30% from the UK and US respectively were happy with the status quo). This is leaving their organisations “susceptible to risks including loss of clients, damage to reputation, and conflict within teams”, claims the Council.
Clifford Young, a managing director at Ipsos Public Affairs, which collaborated on the report, said: “In an increasingly globalised world, the market is demanding more than hard skills.
“Employees need to know how to work in teams, communicate, and most importantly as the workforce becomes increasingly mobile, they need to have the skills to negotiate different social and cultural environments.”