International students' perspective on developing employability during study abroad

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Abstract

In the last three decades, the role of higher education institutions (HEIs) in employability skill development has been emphasised in UK national policy. Within the same time frame, internationalisation has emerged as a key strategy in higher education (HE), nationally and globally. However, the connection between the internationalisation of higher education and developing graduate employability is an understudied area of research. This paper addresses an identified gap in extant literature by examining the intersection of internationalisation, employability and the international student experience. The paper focuses on non‐EU international students' perspectives which is neglected in dominant discourses on employability. Thematic analysis of data collected from 36 semi‐structured interviews with students from 11 non‐EU countries reveals the importance international students place on employability development opportunities during their study abroad. The findings highlight how international student agency is enabled or constrained within the affordances of international HE, and the implications for employability policy development in an increasingly internationalised context of the delivery of higher education. In conclusion, the implication of the findings is considered in view of the constraints on mobility brought on by COVID‐19.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalHigher Education Quarterly
Early online date9 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • agency
  • employability
  • employability development opportunities
  • international student experience
  • internationalisation
  • study abroad

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