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UK sector bodies deliver roadmap on employability

Universities in the UK should be developing their own strategic approach to support the employability of international students and graduates that ought to be led at a senior level, a report has recommended.

Just under half of the 43 universities surveyed said they were currently "unable to meet the demand" for careers and employability services from international students. Photo: pixnio

44% felt they were "currently unable to meet the demand for careers and employability services"

The ‘Supporting International Graduate Employability: Making Good on the Promise’ report, released by UUKi, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, UKCISA and Coventry University, also suggested that institutions should monitor international graduate outcomes “in a more systematic way” to inform future strategic approaches.

“The sector must… learn from the experiences of colleagues overseas to ensure that the new graduate route genuinely benefits int’l students”

Surveying 43 UK institutions, the report found that 44% of respondents felt they were “currently unable to meet the demand for careers and employability services from their international students”.

Many respondents also feel that they will be unable to meet demand if international students numbers increase in line with institutional targets, the report indicated.

Universities should also invest in targeted engagement with overseas employers while facilitating opportunities for home and international students to interact “wherever possible to ensure continuous improvement of international students’ English language skills”.

Embedded practical experiences including internships, placements and ‘real world’ projects within postgraduate courses help to support skills and work experience, the report suggested, but these must be designed with consultation from careers and employability professionals and international students.

Although the survey found 47% of institutions provided tailored careers advice and guidance to international students, the report contended that universities establish a cross-department working group responsible for employability of international grads and students.

The new graduate route is likely to bolster the UK’s attractiveness to some international students, with universities indicating they were unable to meet current demand, institutions need to pay attention to the employability outcomes of students, the reported noted.

“The sector must work hard to ensure the longevity of post-study work and learn from the experiences of colleagues overseas to ensure that the new graduate route genuinely benefits international students studying in the UK,” it read.

“In particular, the government is encouraged to restate its commitment to the International Education Strategy by implementing the proposals for the graduate route and delivering proposed reforms to the visa and immigration regimes.”

UUKi’s assistant director of policy Jamie Arrowsmith explained the added benefit that international students provide for campuses and communities.

“They bring together skills and experiences that really enhance the learning experience for everyone.

“I think critically they also represent the future – the future leaders in business, industry and academia,” Arrowsmith added.

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