December 5, 2023

There were 1.19 million job vacancies in the UK in September-November 2022, according to the Office for National Statistics. Businesses around the world report that they need help recruiting employees with the right skills.

Universities UK International released a report in June 2020 showing that “international students bring more than £6.9 billion in tuition fees to UK universities and contribute more than £26 billion to the wider UK economy”.

The income that international students provide to economies is significant, so their needs need to be addressed.

University careers services continue to be an important part of the university experience for international students. Graduate employability has become a significant factor in helping international students determine where to study.

According to the Harvard Business Review, the number one reason first-year students pursue a college degree is to get a good job after graduation. However, the current financial strain in the higher education sector has meant that careers services need help sourcing and staffing to deal with the complex issues that international students raise.

To be competitive, universities need to invest in their careers services, which will have a cumulative impact on international student recruitment. Investing in career services has the potential for significant returns for universities and the economy.

Students need access to good job opportunities that in turn generate sustainable international recruitment income.

“Universities must invest in their careers services to be competitive”

Quality assured career services help international students navigate market-specific criteria, be aware of critical initiatives, and develop relevant skills and competencies required for various industries.

The UK Government has designed the Graduate Route and Skilled Worker visas to attract international students to contribute to the UK economy.

However, the Association of Graduate Advisory Services (AGCAS) in the UK said awareness of the graduate pathway needs to be raised among students and employers.

Greater integration between the recruitment process and labor market processes is usually required. For example, most postgraduate international students arrive in September or October, which coincides with when major companies start advertising for graduate roles.

“There must be greater integration between the recruitment process and labor market processes”

As a result, international students face the culture shock of arriving in a new country while going through graduate program applications. Most students aren’t aware of this time overlap, so they miss out on great opportunities because it’s poorly communicated during the recruiting process.

The careers services role includes organizing networking events and employer fairs to help develop a network so international students can enter industries with some key relationships.

There are also practical things that can be a barrier to entry for international students, such as understanding how to write a resume that meets market specifications, an effective cover letter, and navigating job interviews and psychometric tests.

At the University of Hull, the Careers Service and Global Engagement team work closely together to prepare students to understand the UK labor market before they arrive. There is currently an initiative where we conduct interviews and focus groups to understand the graduate employment needs of international students and provide services that will lead to more substantial employability outcomes and consequently a stronger brand for international recruitment.

About the author: This is a sponsored article by Tony Taylor, an experienced careers professional in the Student Futures team within the University of Hull Careers Service. It provides career coaching and tailored professional development services for highly talented students and is involved in curriculum design and teaching employability for undergraduate and graduate programs. It is currently developing partnerships with national and multinational recruiters while working with employability services around the world.

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