Erasmus mobility increases student employability

92% of employers are looking for the kind of “cross-sectional competencies” that are encouraged and demonstrated in mobility programmes. This is one of the results of a study carried out by a consortium under the direction of CHE Consult on behalf of the European Commission. In addition to examining mobility programmes' effects on employability, the study analysed the extent to which such a programme promotes internationalisation at European HEIs and contributes to the creation of a European Higher Education Area. CHE Consult was able to demonstrate that its analysis tool memo© was particularly suited to measure these cross-sectional competencies.

The over-riding aim of the Erasmus programme is the development of a European Higher Education Area and the promotion of innovation in higher education. Student and staff mobility in addition to cross-border academic co-operation are key aspects of the Europe 2020 strategy for growth and employment. With the study, the European Commission wanted to obtain valid insight into the actual effects the programme has for participants and the higher education system. The methodological challenge was to create facts beyond personal evaluations and opinions.

The analysis included the responses of almost 57,000 students, 19,000 alumni and 5,000 employees, which means that the sample is larger than any other previous research project on this topic. Moreover, 964 HEIs and 652 employers from 34 countries participated in the study. By collecting data on students' personal characteristics (such as confidence or problem-solving skills) before and after their study periods abroad, the study captures the concrete effects of mobility for the first time and analyses them from the perspective of five key target groups. In addition to the impact of Erasmus mobility on student employability, it was also possible to measure the programme's effects on the internationalisation of HEIs.

"Student mobility is important for their personal development, but it also supports European integration and the development of European economies and societies," says Uwe Brandenburg, project manager at CHE Consult. Studying abroad gives students competencies and capacities that are increasingly appreciated by employers, particularly language proficiency, adaptability, intercultural awareness and tolerance. Cross-border mobility and international co-operation among university academic and non-academic staff contribute to internationalisation and open the way for improving education and training quality.

Unemployment among alumni with mobility experience is 23% less, they hold more managerial positions (44% above those without mobility experience) and they change their employer more frequently. One third of all students in internships abroad receive job offers. Mobility also has effects on students' private lives. Almost one third of Erasmus students have partners of a different nationality and one quarter met their partner abroad.

The project comprised three parts. First, comprehensive literature research and analysis was carried out in order to capture and describe existing approaches and their shortcomings. Students, HEIs and employers were then surveyed and a psychometrical analysis conducted. The empirical research results were then examined and analysed in greater detail using qualitative methods in expert interviews and focus group talks. "We are very pleased that the methods that we have developed for HEIs were able to produce key, comprehensive results,” said Mr Brandenburg. “The memo© approach has proved itself in this context and can be used by any HEI to increase their students' study success abroad."


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