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QS survey: graduate studies sought for better career prospects

Progressing on a current career path was most common reason for applicants to pursue a master’s degree. International recognition of a degree was also considered the most important when searching for a study destination.
November 2 2015
2 Min Read

Increasingly, international students feel bachelor’s degrees aren’t enough to secure long-term career paths, according to a new report from QS Quacquarelli Symonds.

Produced in association with Cambridge English, the study surveyed 7,153 applicants and found that combined, improving employment prospects and progressing on a current career path were given as the most common reasons for applicants to pursue a master’s degree.

“No institution can afford to stay still on this issue”

In addition, 63% cited international recognition of qualifications as a consideration when choosing a study destination.

It also found that the course reputation was the most important factor for master’s applicants when choosing an institution.

Laura Bridgestock, the report’s editor, said the study shows institutions and countries must align curriculum with employability.

“The level of student demand for evidence of employment outcomes and workplace preparation is such that no institution can afford to stay still on this issue,” she told The PIE News.

“To some extent, certain universities/countries can still trade on the strength of their reputations, but this is increasingly not enough – once your competitors start stepping up their employability initiatives, you have to keep pace.”

She added that master’s programmes need to do more to reassure student that they’ll end up with strong prospects.

“Among the students we hear from, there’s a sense that a bachelor’s degree alone is no longer sufficient to ensure entry to a good graduate career path.”

“There’s a sense that a bachelor’s degree alone is no longer sufficient to ensure entry to a good graduate career path”

Once they’ve made the decision to study overseas, students choose an institution based on its reputation in their chosen field.

“Many prospective students, especially those intending to study and/or work abroad, perceive international recognition of their qualifications as essential to securing strong future employment prospects,” said Bridgestock.

More than half of respondents (57%) chose their destinations based on scholarship or financing availability with 52% selecting cultural interest and lifestyle.

Looking at regional breakdowns, students in Latin America and Eastern Europe prioritise cultural interest and lifestyle while applicants in Africa and the Middle East selected scholarship/financial aid availability as their main reason for choosing a destination – the only group to do so.

Applicants in all regions said an institution’s reputation in their field of study was the main influencer, with the exception of Africa and the Middle East, and the Asia Pacific regions, whose applicants considered the overall reputation more important.

Respondents from 150 countries participated in the applicant survey by completing an online questionnaire.

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