In September-November 2022, according to the office of national statistics, there were 1.19 million vacancies in the UK. Businesses globally are reporting needing help recruiting employees with the relevant skills.
Universities UK International released a report in June 2020 showing that “international students bring over £6.9 billion in income to UK universities in tuition fees and contribute over £26 billion to the wider UK economy”.
The revenue international students provide to economies is significant, consequently their needs have to be addressed.
Careers services within universities have continued to be a vital part of the university experience for international students. Graduate employability opportunities have become a significant factor in helping international students determine where to study.
According to the Harvard Business Review, the number one reason first-year students give for pursuing higher education is obtaining a good job after graduation. However, the current financial strains in the higher education industry have meant that career services need help getting the resources and personnel to deal with the complex issues international students raise.
For universities to be competitive, they need to invest in their career services, which will have an aggregated effect on international student recruitment. Investment in career services has the potential for significant returns for universities and the economy.
Students need access to good employment opportunities, which will, in turn, build sustainable international recruitment revenue.
“For universities to be competitive, they need to invest in their career services”
Well-resourced career services help international students to navigate market-specific criteria, be aware of critical initiatives, and develop the relevant skills and competencies required for various industries.
The UK government has outlined the Graduate Route and skilled workers visas to attract international students to contribute to the UK economy.
However, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) in the UK reported that there needs to be more awareness among students and employers about the Graduate route.
Usually, there needs to be more integration between the recruitment process and the processes of the job market. For instance, most postgraduate international students arrive in September or October, which aligns with when the more prominent companies start advertising graduate roles.
“There needs to be more integration between the recruitment process and the processes of the job market”
Consequently, international students face the culture shock of arriving in a new country while navigating graduate scheme applications. Most students are unaware of this time overlap, so they miss out on great opportunities as it’s not communicated well during the recruitment process.
The role of careers services includes organising networking events and employer fairs to help develop a network so that international students can enter industries with some key relationships.
There are also convenient things that can be a barrier to entry for international students, such as understanding how to write a CV that meets market specifications, an effective cover letter, and navigating job interviews and psychometric examinations.
At the University of Hull, the Careers Service and the Global Engagement team work closely to prepare students to understand the UK job market options before arrival. There is currently an initiative where we are interviewing and holding focus groups to understand the graduate employment needs of international students and provide services that will lead to more substantial employability outcomes and, in turn, a stronger brand for international recruitment.
About the author: This is a sponsored article by Tony Taylor, an experienced career professional in the Student Futures team within the University of Hull Careers Service. He delivers bespoke career coaching and professional development services for highly talented students, and is involved in curriculum design and teaching employability for undergraduate and postgraduate programs. He currently develops partnerships with national and multinational recruiters while liaising with employability services worldwide.