Universities need to work with international students to decrease feelings of isolation and increase opportunities for the development of soft skills, according to a new survey by QS Enrolment Solutions, a global market leader in recruitment, conversion and retention services for the higher education sector.
Now in its seventh year, the 2019 International Student Survey (ISS) found that hospitality is one of the key concerns for international students, with (54%) of prospective students listing ‘welcoming to international students’ as an important factor when selecting a university.
The ISS is the world’s largest survey of prospective international students providing unique insight into the motivations and decision-making processes of one of Australia’s biggest export markets.
Davorin Vrdoljak, Vice-President Operations, QS Enrolment Solutions, a global market leader in recruitment, conversion and retention services for the higher education sector.
He says that when considering graduate outcomes, many prospective students place importance in attending universities with a high graduate employment rate
“In looking at programs, students recognise that more than professional experience and relevant qualifications are needed to successfully secure employment in today’s job market,” he said.
“The mark of a well-rounded graduate is one that has an equal mix of hard and soft skills, gained by interactions in both social and educational environments.”
However, Vrdoljak said his organisation is increasingly seeing instances of international students struggling with language barriers, causing them to withdraw and limit their interactions with students outside the classroom.
“These feelings of isolation can hinder the development of essential skills, such as communication, teamwork and leadership, which are recognised by prospective students as being prioritised by employers when hiring new recruits,” he said.
Vrdoljak said that with over half (52%) of international students intending to commence working after graduating, comprehensive support systems must be in place by universities to ensure international students are adequately prepared for employment beyond the formal credentials.
“In order to protect and maintain Australia’s reputation as a provider of quality higher education, universities need to facilitate a welcoming environment for international students,” he said.
“There are many ways for universities to ensure students feel comfortable when studying overseas, such as providing ample information on the local area, outlining graduate employer expectations, and where possible, facilitating the opportunity for prospective students to form connections with nationally diverse and local students when they arrive.”