Record Number Of Students Going Abroad Despite Anti-Global Rhetoric In Recent Elections

28 Aug Record Number Of Students Going Abroad Despite Anti-Global Rhetoric In Recent Elections

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Don’t misread recent votes in the U.K. and U.S. as part of a lasting anti-global movement. The Brexit vote and election of Donald Trump suggest that some governments want to pull in their borders. However, that stands in stark contrast to trends in business and education, where leaders are stepping up efforts to become global entities. In these sectors, globalization cannot be stopped.

America’s biggest companies, represented by those in the S&P 500, earn almost half their revenue from foreign markets and that share is on the rise. In an effort to meet employer demand for a culturally aware workforce, universities are sending a record number of students abroad. The number of U.S.-based university students doing programs in a foreign country reached 336,000 last year and is up 350% since 1990.

Companies are also expressing an increased interest in students that have not only studied abroad but worked abroad too, typically through a professional internship. It’s not clear how many international internships get filled each year, but international internship providers like The Intern Group, are placing a record high number of students. The Intern Group alone received 30,000 applications from students in the U.S. this year and is seeing growth rates of 50% annually.

Brexit and Trump notwithstanding, here’s what one part of the march toward globalization looks like inside companies and universities:

Despite the anti-global rhetoric, modern businesses of all sizes need leaders that understand globalization. For example, some companies are yet to budge on Trump’s requests to bring production back into the U.S. Apple CEO, Tim Cook said that there is a lack of workers with the required skills in the U.S. Not only that, but if the majority of production comes back into the U.S., the cost of its products will rise by at least 100%. The reality is that businesses are losing their geographical boundaries and an understanding of how to conduct business abroad is increasingly relevant. And that requires an appreciation of and sensitivity to foreign cultures, beliefs, and practices.

survey conducted in March 2016 by the Economist shows that respondents with international experience were more likely to be employed within six months of graduation than those without.

“Multinationals also need people to be mobile, not tied to one place, and open to the idea of travel,” said Andre Martin, vice president of talent development and chief learning officer at Nike, in the 2016 report.

Ultimately, universities are judged by how employable their graduates are, and it is clear that they consider international programs to be beneficial. According to Open Doors 2016, an annual report on international education trends released by the Institute of International Education (IIE), universities plan on increasing their global connections and partnerships. They are also adding internationalization goals to their strategies.

Northeastern University’s 2010-2016 Academic Action plan has a goal of providing global experience opportunities for every undergraduate.

Over the past decade, University of South Alabama saw a 245% increase in study abroad participation through a comprehensive and creative effort to reach students across campus.

A Generation Hungry For Global Experiences

More students are going abroad than ever before despite ongoing rhetoric against the “evils” of globalization. In fact, if you left it up to the millennials, Hillary Clinton would be in office and the U.K. would have voted to stay in the EU.

Alex Baum spent two months in Madrid, Spain interning at corporate finance firm ONEtoONE. He returned to West Virginia University with a full-time position in hand. Post-graduation Baum works as an Associate in New York City, aiding ONEtoONE Corporate Finance’s efforts expanding into the United States. “Working abroad forces you to immerse yourself and teaches you that there are other ways of doing and seeing things that you’ve been taught,” said Baum. “It’s an absolutely fantastic experience.”

Having come of age in the global economy, students want to go abroad and know that it will benefit their careers.

“With everything that’s been going on in the world with the Brexit votes and now the U.S. election, we were nervous about how it would affect the number of students going abroad,” said Lexie Kadlec, Director of Enrollments at The Intern Group. “To our pleasant surprise, a record-high number of students are submitting applications for our programs abroad. The market for international education is growing and, in my opinion, is more important now than ever before.”


Brian is an international speaker and branding expert. Contact him at connect@brianrashid.com

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