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'International student mobility literature review' was commissioned by HEFCE and the British Council, as the UK National Agency for Erasmus (Note 1), to provide a better understanding of trends in the mobility of UK students and to compare them with those in other countries. The study considered the reasons behind students' decision to study abroad and employers' attitudes towards those who have studied abroad.

The report distinguishes between those who study abroad as part of a course at a UK higher education institution and those who study an entire degree course outside the UK.

Findings in the report include:

  • Increasing numbers of UK students have studied abroad in the past few years. This partly results from greater numbers taking part in Erasmus, an EU-funded scheme in which students can spend time in Europe as part of their study at a UK higher education institution. The introduction of work placements in the Erasmus scheme has contributed to this rise.
  • The UK is primarily a host country for foreign students. Around 370,000 students from outside the UK come here to study; there are less than a tenth of that number of UK students currently studying abroad.
  • UK universities could do more to provide clear and accurate information to prospective students about studying abroad. This could include highlighting the support they offer, and the benefits study abroad can bring, such as employment outcomes.

Heather Fry, HEFCE Director for Education and Participation, said:

'This report highlights the benefits that UK students can gain from studying abroad. We should be doing more as a nation to publicise and support this. Students are missing out on opportunities, not least to improve their competitiveness in the international graduate labour market.'

Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, said:

'This report shows how UK students can gain by spending time abroad as part of their university experience. Whether it's an internship at a company based overseas, or a study period at a foreign university, students gain valuable skills which will benefit them throughout their personal and professional lives.

'Outward mobility is particularly valuable when it forms an integral and accredited part of the student's course. I am grateful to authors of this report for offering some useful suggestions for universities about how to increase student mobility, and also for highlighting some key areas for future research.'

Martin Davidson, Chief Executive British Council, said:

'The market for skills and talents is global, and more opportunities need to be provided for young people in the UK to gain international experience through work and study placements in other countries. Not only does this build cultural fluency, the ability to work in differing environments, but more importantly it will allow the UK to develop a workforce that can drive forward our knowledge economy.'


 

Notes

  1. The International student mobility literature review was commissioned by HEFCE and the British Council as the UK National Agency for Erasmus, and carried out by Professor Russell King, Sussex Centre for Migration Research, University of Sussex; Professor Allan Findlay, Centre for Applied Population Analysis, University of Dundee; and Jill Ahrens, Sussex Centre for Migration Research, University of Sussex.
  2. 'International student mobility literature review' is available on the HEFCE web-site.