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UK survey maps career outcomes of foreign graduates

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • A large-scale survey of international alumni in the UK finds a high degree of satisfaction with their studies
  • The survey also highlights the strong attachment that international graduates feel toward the UK, with most indicating their intention to build business and research links with UK partners and nearly all expressing an interest in return travel to Britain
  • The study is seen as an important body of evidence in the current debate around post-study work rights for foreign graduates in the UK

A newly released survey provides a unique snapshot of the employment outcomes for foreign alumni of British universities. International Graduate Outcomes 2019 was commissioned by Universities UK International (UUKi) and produced by iGraduate. It gathers survey responses from more than 16,000 international graduates from 58 British institutions.

“The survey results show that international graduates from UK universities go on to successful and satisfying careers, and that the majority of them recognise that their UK degree is a vehicle for their success,” highlights the report. “The results also show just how valuable our international graduates are as ambassadors for the UK.”

The survey findings reveal a high level of student satisfaction, with 90% of graduates reporting that they are satisfied with their learning experience and the support they received from their universities in the UK. Meanwhile, 82% say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their careers so far.

In other headline findings:

  • 82% of international graduates say that their UK degree was worth the financial investment;
  • Nearly the same proportion (83%) felt that their UK degree helped them to get a job;
  • More than half (53%) said that they earn “above average or well above average” compared to peers that earned degrees in their home country;
  • Roughly eight in ten (77%) said that they are now more likely to do business with the UK – slightly more (81%) expected to build professional links with UK partners and nine in ten said they would return to the UK for holiday travel.

They survey findings have been published even as the UK is working toward a new international strategy that aims to increase the country’s foreign enrolment to 600,000 students by 2030. To get there, it will have to make substantial gains over the current base of roughly 460,000 foreign students in British higher education, and it will have to shake off several years of very marginal growth in foreign student numbers.

The relatively flat growth in foreign enrolment over the last five years can be traced back to more restrictive post-study work policies introduced by the British government in the early part of this decade. The new international strategy, many observers feel, hinges on a proposal to expand work rights for international graduates. Even if successful, however, the proposed UK offer will still lag considerably behind that of other major study destinations.

Speaking to Times Higher Education, UUKi Director Vivienne Stern argues that the new alumni survey is an important additional piece of evidence for the government’s policy deliberations.

“I would point to [foreign graduates’] desire to maintain professional and business links, their desire to maintain research links and to come for tourism [after graduation]. We benefit, they benefit, the country benefits. It’s a kind of win, win, win…“If [the work rights amendment] isn’t accepted when the immigration bill returns to Parliament, I will eat my hat.”

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