International Education | Articles
Why international education is still your best bet in a post-COVID-19 world
For students around the world there’s no more important decision than deciding where to pursue college or university. For years, a growing number of high schoolers decided to travel across the globe and pursue a degree in the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia and other locations a plane-ride away from their home. The number of these international students grew steadily over the past decade and for good reason. Not only has the journey provided invaluable life lessons and adventure, but scholars often leave with internationally recognized degrees, a leading education in their field and a significant advantage in their burgeoning career.
Of course, the unexpected spread of COVID-19 hastily closed campuses across continents and caused confusion for incoming students, preparing to begin their international studies in the fall. While institutions are still deciding on a course of action for the school year, including the possibility of virtual classes and careful re-openings, you may be worried about your future: is international education still a good idea?
It’s important to note that while the pandemic is unprecedented, such uncertainty in the history of education is not. The global financial crisis of 2008 also caused pause for incoming students, as did previous economic downturns and political changes. These events, while significant, were also temporary.
Here’s why an international education is still incredibly valuable:
Proficiency in English
In the world of international business, an aptitude for the English tongue is critical. A growing number of companies – even those based in countries where English is not the main language – are requiring this ability, despite the fact that many nations have a low percentage of speakers: in Italy 29% can speak English and in Brazil the number is only 5%. Spending a number of years fully immersed in an English-speaking culture will become endlessly useful in the future.
An opportunity to immigrate after graduation
For many students, you place of study will become your new home. In the US, the number of international students remaining in the country to work after graduation has grown sharply. In Canada, several programs exist to help foreign scholars immigrate upon completing their studies. Though visa and immigration rules often change, obtaining a local degree provides a significant advantage if you wishes to permanently move to their host nation.
Increased employment opportunities in a home country
Not all students wish to remain in their host city. For many, a return to their native country after completing their education awards them a huge advantage over other recent graduates. Employers look favourably upon potential hires with a global lens, especially larger companies with multiple locations. Your experience in your studies can make you better prepared to work with global teams and apply your cutting-edge education. One study found that 90% of study abroad graduates found their first job within six months of graduation.
For today’s generation, traditional career paths are a relic of the past. These graduates will require new skills, knowledge and substantial adaptability. Living and studying abroad develop valuable qualities that will serve you in both your career and life. A study examining 50 years of data showed that overseas studies have a positive substantial long-term impact on individuals' career paths. A recent report from Western Union Business Solutions, showed that changing working patterns are a key driver shaping the choices international students.
The world is getting smaller
Businesses, even small companies, are increasingly relying on global partners such as suppliers, staff and customers. For such a shift, employers need globally-minded workers to thrive and succeed in this environment.
An expanded world view
Students who choose to travel overseas to pursue their education have a broader view of the world and are more adaptable to living in a world without borders. They develop identities rooted in people rather than places. Studying abroad is an opportunity for cultural enrichment, an opportunity to meet like minded people in a cultural melting pot. Students graduate with a different view of the world; a secret power of perspective; a set of borderless behaviors that enrich their future lives – socially, physically, emotionally, intellectually. Sometimes the greatest lessons we learn are the ones we didn’t sign up for. International study offers an education money can’t buy.
Though the COVID-19 crisis has caused confusion, worry and perhaps delayed a student’s decision to pursue studies overseas, it should by no means stop it. Past decades have shown that while the flow of incoming international students to top schools has paused in the past for economic or political reasons, it is one of the most valuable investments you can make and one of the key ways to ensure your future success.