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Benefits of studying abroad

2 May 2013

Hear from past and present Cardiff students on the benefits of studying abroad

Students can gain valuable social and cultural and experiences and boost their skills ready for work if they study abroad as part of their studies, according to the University's President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Riordan.

Unveiling a new target of 17% of all University graduates to study, work or volunteer abroad by 2017, Professor Riordan believes it is vital that more is done in Wales to raise the possibilities and benefits to students of studying abroad.

"If you said to a student you can gain valuable life, language and employability skills and earn more when you graduate if you go abroad for as little as a month during your studies, then I am in no doubt that, given the current graduate employment market, few would choose to ignore this opportunity," according to Vice-Chancellor, Professor Riordan.

But the reality is that many students are unaware of the potential benefits.

"I know that costs can put students off, but grants are available from the European Commission for example, and some students even get a paid work placement. There are other benefits too.

"A recent report by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) found that students who undertake a programme of study in Europe are more likely to be either in employment or further study six months after qualifying, and their average salaries are higher," he added.

University Occupational Therapy student Carey-Anne Dooley, who spent a three month placement at Linköpings Universitet in Sweden, said: "Having to communicate with patients who can't always speak the same language was a very interesting experience. I don't think I'd previously appreciated the value of good communication, as I do now.

"I felt like I really developed a strong sense of independence and I am really proud of myself. You are able to problem solve because you have to be flexible, adaptable and learn new things quickly. I also met so many amazing and interesting people. They are friends I still have today.

"I would definitely encourage anyone to study abroad – it was without doubt one of the best experiences I've had at University."

Minister for Education, Leighton Andrews, said: "I would encourage all students to consider a period of study abroad as part of their course. Studying overseas can help students develop skills and experiences that are vital for both their personal development and future employment. The academic links that are built through overseas study programmes are also essential for Wales' academic reputation and profile abroad."

Professor Riordan is also keen to outline the positive benefits to the wider Welsh economy.

"Getting students to gain new skills can help boost our scores in league tables, help attract international staff and help universities link up with other EU and international providers, helping to improve our reputation and international profile," he adds.

This is not the first time Professor Riordan has raised the need for more to be done to encourage student mobility.

In 2012, as Chair of the UK Higher Education International Unit, he produced a report into the obstacles which prevent students studying abroad for the UK Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts MP.

Professor Riordan added: "Taking into consideration the benefits of greater student mobility we must do more to establish greater support and incentives.

"We need to recognise and respond positively to raise the benefits of student mobility for the interests of students and the wider Welsh and UK economy."

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