International students’ perspectives on employability in Europe

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Author(s)Norbert Šabić
The Erasmus Mundus (EM) programme has been designed as a means to attract highly skilled students from third countries to Europe. In this sense, it is a programme that directly relates to European brain gain. However, so far there was little knowledge about what happens with students who finish their Erasmus Mundus Masters Courses (EMMC).
Since the start of the program (2003/2004) 13.957 students from over 90 different countries have enrolled in EMMC , making it one of the largest international mobility programmes in the world. The prime motivation of these students is to study at European higher education institutions, however, many decide to seek employment in Europe after graduation. Therefore, the Employability Cluster of EM, which consists of students, stakeholders and external experts, conducted a survey among EM students on the topic of employability.
Based on the work of Brown and Hesketh (2004) employability is considered as the combination of the acquired set of skills and competences and their market-related usability. Both aspects need to be present in order to enhance employability of graduates. Due to its limitation, the study did not cover employer satisfaction, instead focused only at the perspectives of students and their teaching institutions. Thus, the broader aim of the study was to explore the added value of the Erasmus Mundus diploma on the supply side of the European labour market. For this reason, several semi-structured interviews have been conducted with the coordinators of EMMC and an online survey was carried out among current and past Erasmus Mundus students.
The results of the study indicate that EMMC are successful in equipping young people with skills required in the labour market. Deficits can be determined only for competences that are more related to the cooperation and functionality within workplace. Erasmus Mundus students seem to suit the most positions that require high internationality and extended cultural competences, which is linked to the significance of foreign language proficiency and its improvement during EMMC. This outcome is also reflected in the type of jobs that EM graduates acquire after their studies.

Brown, P. & Hesketh, A. (2004): The Mismanagement of Talent: Employability and Jobs in the
Knowledge Economy. New York. Oxford University Press
CategoriesModernising PHE within diversified HE » 2013 23rd Annual Conference