A survey of 1,588 UK undergraduates lead by the UK Higher Education International Unit and the British Council, found that 70 percent of participants who had studied, worked or volunteered abroad felt they had become more committed to their degree course afterwards as a result.
More than half of respondents felt international experience would help them secure a job after graduating and approximately two-thirds said it would get them a better degree classification.
Other students reported that they received an improvement in independence, inter-cultural understanding and confidence. However, the study found “modest” differences between the students who went abroad for a semester and those for a year.
Additionally, students were not deterred to travel when the trip was for less than a 12 months. Those who studied overseas for only a few weeks perceived less academic benefits but “strong” personal development similar to those who were abroad for longer.
Head of the international unit’s outward student mobility programme, Anne Marie Graham, stated that institutions needed to provide “different types of opportunity to engage as many types of students as possible”.
“There are always students who want to take a year abroad, but some will be unable to, so we need to think about what we can offer them,” she added.
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