An Opportunity of a Lifetime? No thanks.Mar 30th, 2009 | By jem | Category: Features, Travel
By Jemelyn Yadao
Tropical rainforests and sunny skies in Australia, cosmopolitan lifestyle and big city marvel in New York, the vibrant night lights in Tokyo and the mesmerizing colourful sunset in Brazil. These are sceneries that not only postcards but UK students have yet to capture. Former-student, Rick Majithia, talks about Hong Kong where he studied as part of an exchange scheme. “Think beaches, rooftop bars on top of sky scrapers, some of the best shopping in the world and a brilliant nightlife. The culture is different,” he says. “It turned out to be one of the best decisions I had ever made.” But unlike Rick, many UK students are unable to share their experience of studying outside Britain because they missed out.
Although UK develops some of the best graduates in the world, UK graduates are missing out in getting that wider global perspective as they are less likely to study abroad than they used to.
A recent report by the Council for the Industry and Higher Education (CIHE), Global Horizons and the Role of Employers, found that Global businesses are increasingly seeking graduates who have a global awareness with the initiative to study overseas as part of their learning. The study stated that the number of English home students going on European schemes such as The European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students (ERUSMUS) had fallen from 9,500 to 5,500 in the last ten years.
Chriselia De Vries, Study Abroad Officer for Cass Business School London, believes that the report’s claims are true. “The majority of the students I send away tend to be ‘EU’ or Overseas students rather than Home” says De Vries, “We certainly receive many more incoming students from our partner schools than we manage to send out.”
So why are fewer of our home-grown students today passing off a future of security and high pay? Another CIHE report found that the perceived institutional barriers include: unclear institutional strategies, lack of encouragement and inadequate support and funding.
Some students are unaware about funding which could explain why they may be worried about the cost of studying abroad. Clarissa Fairlie, 19, a student from Birmingham University is one of them. “I have no idea how students from my university or course are funded. I just know I can’t afford it,” she says. She is choosing not to study aboard as part of her Tourism Business Management course. “It’s too long, I want to get university over and done with, I feel like I will miss out on things like graduating with my friends. I want to graduate with everyone else. I am aware of the benefits. I would do it if it was for only two weeks but it’s for one year. ”
However, Ivan Hutchins, International Partnerships Manager of City University, is not convinced that funding is an issue or that the number of English home students studying abroad is reducing. He finds courses such as Speech and Language Therapy, Journalism, Business and Economics have shown a notable increase in UK graduates participating in exchanges. “I know this because these departments have staff dedicated to making exchanges work and grow.”