Studying Abroad: Cultural Preference Tops Academics for Gen Z

A research conducted by AFS Intercultural Programs concluded that Generation Z prefers the cultural aspect of studying abroad over considering the quality of education.

Over 5,000 students were surveyed from 27 countries around the world with ages ranging from 13 to 18 years old between March and December 2016.

international-student

According to the study, 67% of the students have shown high value on the cultural experiences that are bound to come while studying abroad compared to the scholastics and education.

Daniel Obst, the president and CEO of AFS expressed that based on the findings, Generation Z students do not only want to travel overseas for the sake of it but actually want to experience what the local people of foreign countries experience. He adds that they are keen on having a ‘global’ status on their identity when compared to older generations.

Of the 67% of culture-yearning students, there are two groups. ‘Cultural hitchhikers’ or those whose primary focus is on cultural experience that does not have high financial resources make up 36% of the respondents. On the other hand, ‘cultural floaters’ or students with high financial resources and who intends to experience other cultures are 31% of the students.

culture-yearning-international-students

When broken down by nationality, three-quarters of the students who prefer culture more than academics are European, followed by 57% from Latin America, 58% from Southeast Asia and 72% from North America.

According to a report, Mapping Generation Z: Attitudes toward International Education Programs, AFS discovered that the top destinations of this generation were Anglophone or English-speaking countries to be most considered, achieving a percentage of 77% of students. The countries most preferred were the US, UK and Australia.

Western European countries like Germany, France and Italy faired 65% as favourable countries and China being the least favourable fairing 38% of the Gen Z students.

“These findings paint a picture of large growth potential for the traditionally popular English destinations and set the tone for increasing competitive pressures among them” the report noted.

Concerning security issues, 36% of students expressed their anxiety but after May 2016, the percentage increased to 52% as the terrorist attacks were publicised globally.

Other issues concerning studying abroad were making no friends, followed by homesickness and school re-entry requirements upon returning home, each shared by 48% of students.

None of the respondents had been on an international exchange before this but 60% has considered the possibility.

Hristo Banov, manager of the management information unit at AFS and the study’s lead researcher said that in order to increase the interest of students to study in foreign countries, it is important for information to travel by word of mouth.

He adds that, in today’s environment, ‘genuine, personal referral’ remains unchanged although students listen to experiences from immediate friends and family but also get to see the experiences of others from their extended social media footprint.

New Regulations Allow Post-Grad International Students to Work in China after their Studies

The Chinese government has decided to set regulations concerning post-study labour allowing Post-Grad international students to work after completing their degree in the country.

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The action was called as a strategy to establish China as a study destination and attract potential talents to globalise its workforce. The new regulations announced on 6 January by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, Foreign Affairs and Education, stated that foreign students who have graduated with a master’s degree or above from the universities in China or other “well-known universities” are eligible to work.

Previously, international students with foreign degrees were required to have two years of work experience outside China. This, however, prevented international students in the country from continuing to work after graduating from their studies according to Erik Skuse, research manager at Emerging Strategy, a market intelligence company based in Shanghai.

“This policy change is a recognition that if China wants to expand its international higher education capacity further, it must leverage the attractiveness of China’s massive, globalised employment market among foreign students seeking to start careers,” commented Skuse.

The country is taking action to grow its number of global students from of 390,000 students in 2015 according to the Ministry of Education.

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To apply for the one-year work visa, students must have had previously secured a job with a Chinese company according to their respective field of study, which meets local skill demands and offers a salary set to market standards. Student applicants must be over the age of 18 and have obtained a B (80%) grade average or higher.

This new policy hopes to encourage more foreign students to choose China as a study destination and then to stay and work here,” commented Jill Tang, founder of CareerXFactor, a talent recruitment company for graduates with foreign degrees.

She also mentioned that China will still need to import either knowledge or people from overseas to accommodate certain skills.

Tang also says that certain big companies are thinking of providing internships or graduate programmes for international students and later send them back to their homelands to contribute to the growth of the company there.

US Graduate programs growth led by international students

Highlights

  • Between the fall of 2013 and fall of 2014, first-time graduate enrolment in the US went up by 3.5%
  • Over the same period, first-time enrolment for international students grew by 11.2%
  • Over two-thirds of the growth over the past decade has been fuelled by international students
  • The main focus areas for international students in the US is in STEM fields

the Bonn International Graduate School of Neuroscience

(Source: http://bigs-neuroscience.de/)

Earlier this month, the US Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) reported that first-time graduate enrolment in the country went up by 3.5%. The growth, tracked between the fall of 2013 and fall 2014, is the largest one-year increase since 2009. While this bodes well for future enrolment trends, America’s graduate enrolment remain below its peak in 2009 growing only by 0.4% between 2013 to 2014. Read more

US new bill pushes colleges to be accredited to have foreign students

In recent weeks, The Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported that the US House of Representatives has passed a bill that would require all colleges and universities in the US that enrol foreign students with the issuance of I-20’s to be accredited.

Lawmakers in the US approved the H.R. 3120 bill, making it mandatory for all institutions of higher education enrolling 25 foreign students or more, to have certified accreditation, nationally or regionally, that is recognized by the US Department of Education.

(Source: http://www.ndtv.com/)

This move comes as part of the effort by the US to close a major loophole in the foreign student visa system passed in the wake of 9/11 attacks, wherebyfraudulent colleges have taken in foreign students by the thousands by luring them the right to work in the United States. Senator Chuck Grassley said, “This is a national security matter. Foreign student visas were issued to terrorists who attacked the United States both in 1993 and on September 11.” Representative Zoe Lofgren lauded the approval of the bill by the US House of Representative, believing that the accreditation requirements will prevent unauthorized institutions from deceiving genuine foreign seeking education in the United States. He further added, “In addition, this requirement will prevent fly-by-night institutions from engaging in student-visa fraud to smuggle or traffic persons into the country.” Read more

International Minded Student Community

In the world of higher education around the world, internalization has been a big topic. According to last year’s EAIE Barometer, a research done collectively by Europe’s leading research company, Ecorys, and EAIE to study the state of internalization in Europe, the main factors are as follows:

– Strategic partnerships

– Improved recruitment and services for international students

– Boost quality of international courses

What’s important to note is that while much discourse on internationalization have happened, the same cannot be said on preparing students to thrive in this new-age global higher education environment.

The stepped up efforts to recruit international students is something to be lauded. That said, it is in fact international students that lack the global outlook and curiosity to discover new cultures. As a result, it is not unusual that international students remain relatively segregated within their own communities as they lack confidence and language ability to take part in discussions and activities.

Domestic students – students from the host country – would need to play their part as well to take full advantage of this new opportunities. That would mean domestic students need to genuinely engage their new foreign friends to make them feel welcomed and at home. As one can imagine, it’s a big step for anyone to uproot and live in a new country. Therefore, any assistance and warm hospitality from those in host countries would certainly be welcomed and helpful to ease the onboarding journey of international students.

 

Internationally-minded Students

(Image: kateescott.wordpress.com)

(Image: kateescott.wordpress.com)

Students play a crucial role to potentially impact the university’s international climate in a meaningful way. Domestic and international students must have an open mind to learn other cultures, be proficient in multiple languages, engage in meaningful discourse with professors and classmates on global issues, as well as be confident enough to showcase their unique culture and viewpoints.

More important than just being international, students must be internationally-minded. Though we have seen increased efforts and initiatives to prepare students with a more global outlook, there are only few noteworthy large scale programs, apart from the International Baccalaureate, or IB.

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