Choosing a foreign university: Not just academics, focus on employability

When looking for opportunities to study abroad, until a few years ago, a handful of countries came to an Indian student’s mind. The United States and the United Kingdom with their prestigious colleges and great institutions of higher learning, many of them with Ivy League tag, topped the list. However, restrictions on student visa and post qualification opportunities for internship in the UK and USA has suddenly brought up questions in the minds of both the students and their parents.

International students should seriously consider studying in Australia to enhance their career success. Australia has been recession free for the past 26 years. Australia’s economic success often goes unnoticed because it is not promoted as much as the UK and USA.

Another benefit of studying in Australia is attractive salary package for graduates. On an average, a graduate in Australia makes around AUD 60,000 per annum.

With the US administration putting several visa restrictions in place, Australia’s popularity is continuing to grow quickly.

The most popular courses amongst Indian students are Business, Information Technology, Engineering, Science and Hospitality. The vocational education sector is also becoming popular with Indian students.

Another plus point is that Indian students find it easy to transfer to the Australian education system due to the similarity in their 10+2+3 education structures.

Even with the Australian economy running smoothly for the past 15 years and opportunities aplenty for international students, choosing a university for graduate or post graduate studies is not easy.

What is it that really interests you, what would you like to achieve, what do you enjoy doing – these are not inane questions but important pointers to your future career. With the jobs as we know them to be today set to change vastly or disappear in the next 5-10 years due to tectonic technological changes, students looking for a satisfying and successful career will have to seriously ponder the road ahead.

In addition to considering academic excellence of a university, do also consider the focus it places on employability of students.

Check out if they have a well-researched and thought through Professional Development Programme (PDP) tailored for international students to enhance their career success. Employability means not just employment and getting a job, but equipping you with the skills, the knowledge and tools to be able to succeed in your career.

It is normal and expected of students not to know what they want to do. Check out if the Professional Development Programme for international students will give international students like you systematic opportunities to experience Australian workplace culture, about the recruitment process and prepare you for a global career – through interactive sessions.

Also check out how the programme will equip you with inputs so that you as an international student “stand out”.

Do enquire if the PDP stresses on networking and sharpening the communication skills of students to boost their employability, besides teaching them about writing resumes.

What career advice can you expect to maximise employment outcomes? Does the university’s placement division organise career fairs and seminars? If yes, how often are recruiters invited to the campus? Do the invitees to the career workshops include international alumni who have been successful? These are some of the pertinent questions a study abroad aspirant needs to ask. 

Authored by Blair Slater, senior careers consultant for international students at the University of South Wales (UNSW) Careers and Employment.