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Gone International: the value of mobility

18 February 2016

2016 report shows greater employment outcomes for mobile black and Asian students.

The UK Higher Education International Unit's Go International programme published a report today (18 February) that outlines which students go abroad, where they go and considers what currently available data can tell us about the outcomes of international experience as part of a UK undergraduate programme. Gone International: the value of mobility provides the second annual national outline of the academic attainment and employment outcomes of mobile and non-mobile undergraduate students. This year the data was disaggregated to also explore the impact of mobility on black and ethnic minority students and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

In comparing mobile and non-mobile students' outcomes, data from the 2013–14 graduating cohort of UK undergraduates shows that, six months after graduating:

  • Less likely to be unemployed (5% compared to 7%)

  • Mobile students from disadvantaged backgrounds less likely to be unemployed (5.0% compared to 6.2%)

  • Black and Asian students particularly benefit from mobility (5.4% compared to 9.9% and 4.4% to 9.5% unemployed respectively) although the number of mobile students is lower

  • Mobile students from all backgrounds reported higher average salaries than their non-mobile equivalents. (£21, 349 compared to £20, 519 for a non-mobile student)

  • Mobile students are more likely to achieve a First Class (1st) or Upper Second Class (2.i) in their degree (81% compared to 72%)

  • More likely to be in further study, or in work and further study

  • 38% of mobile students studied languages

  • More mobile students were female than male but if you exclude language students the participation rate is the same - 3.6%

  • Mobile students are more likely to work in education and professional, scientific and technical activities than their non-mobile peers.

This report echoes last year's findings and shows strong academic attainment and improved employment outcomes for mobile students. The research will provide institutions with data to support them in discussions about increasing participation of underrepresented groups in outward mobility opportunities.

Vivienne Stern, Director of the UK HE International Unit said:

"We want to encourage all students to benefit from a period abroad. This report demonstrates the value of mobility, particularly for students from ethnic minorities and disadvantaged backgrounds. The additional analysis was undertaken in response to feedback from the higher education sector and as part of the Go International Programme and we have developed an action plan to support the uptake of mobility from widening participation groups across institutions."

The report analysed the data from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey (DLHE) and the HESA Student Record for 2013–14*. Analysis was restricted to 245,620 UK-domiciled, undergraduate first degree graduates who completed their studies in in 2013–14. 13,355 of these were identified as being mobile at some point during their course.

The report can be found here.

For further information or to arrange an interview with Vivienne Stern, Director, UK Higher Education International Unit, or Anne-Marie Graham, Head of Programme, Outward Student Mobility, please contact 020 7419 5616.


Notes to Editors:

  1. ​From 1 August 2016, the UK Higher Education International Unit became Universities UK International.​
  2. In 2013–14, the fields of HESA data capturing instances of mobility were enhanced, and the student record for the last year of focus in this report captured more data on mobility than would have been the case in previous years. Therefore it is not possible to make a direct comparison between this report and the 2015 publication.
  3. The UK Higher Education International Unit developed the UK Strategy for Outward Mobility. The Strategy has the backing from the four nation governments, and was launched in December 2013 in response to the comparatively low numbers of UK students spending time overseas as part of their higher education.  The Go International programme is implementing the Strategy and, with its dedicated website, capacity-building workshops and research programme, aims to help the sector in developing and enhancing the range of international opportunities on offer to students in UK higher education institutions. The UK Government has committed to contribute to a European Union target that 20% of students in the European Higher Education Area will have been mobile by 2020.
  4. The International Unit represents all the UK's higher education bodies internationally. It acts for the UK higher education sector at Governmental and EU policy forums and enhances the sector's ability to compete in a global market by providing intelligence on internationalisation and European policy development. The International Unit initiates and carries out high profile projects and activities, commissions research and produces publications to support and develop the UK higher education sector's international activities. The IU is part of Universities UK, and is also funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, Scottish Funding Council, Department for Employment and Learning (Northern Ireland), GuildHE, the Higher Education Academy and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.​

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