Is an Australian degree valuable to international students?

What importance and value does an Australian degree have when you return home for work and who does it really benefit?

Many students may ask this of their degree and some may even doubt the quality of their education once they graduate. But new research from Dr Jasvir Kaur, an Early Career Development Fellow from the La Trobe Business School, reveals that an Australian degree is valuable both to graduates and businesses.

Supported by the China Studies Seed Funding Research Grant from La Trobe China Studies Research Centre, Dr Kaur’s research included interviews with Chinese La Trobe alumni in Shanghai and Beijing. Based on her findings, it was found that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) companies benefited greatly from the recruitment of Chinese overseas graduates. These companies employ Chinese overseas graduates to work with them in various roles, Dr Kaur’s research found. But why are FDI companies so keen to employ these graduates in particular?

English language

FDI companies look forward to employing overseas graduates due to their command over the English language. These graduates can help a business in many ways.

One student Dr Kaur spoke with said she was mainly employed because of her English language command, which she uses to help her workplace translate Chinese documents into English.

Another Chinese La Trobe graduate said he played an important role at his workplace where he often speaks to overseas business partners. His excellent grasp of the English language has helped this graduate successfully navigate business negotiations and represent his company at international exhibitions.

Soft skills acquired through education

According to Dr Kaur’s research participants, employers from FDI organisations also appreciate overseas graduates, especially from Australia, for their critical, analytical and problem solving skills. These skills are applied in their daily work and graduates credit this to their Australian education.

Furthermore, openness in thinking and frank communication were also valued by employers. One of the Chinese graduates Dr Kaur spoke with mentioned that “being brave in stating your opinion is important to the FDI employers”.

Adaptability was also sought after by employers, as FDI organisations strongly felt that international Chinese graduates were able to adapt to any kind of situation after staying and studying in Australia for an extended duration of time. “Staying and studying in Australia has made us more independent”, said one survey participant. “We are used to adapting to a new environment, and we are able to put ourselves into a situation and adjust very quickly.”

How you can start increasing your employability

As companies and businesses expand, so too does the need to employ overseas graduates with an exceptional command over the English language. Having an overseas education and demonstrating a solid grasp of English, whether written or verbal, may be enough to instil confidence to an employer. International exposure is important for this and can also open students to different ways of communicating and thinking.

If you’re on the cusp of graduating or a current international student, Dr Kaur urges all international students to soak up what they can of Australian culture.

  • Appreciate, learn and refine your command of English.
  • Engage with others and think critically and analytically about work assigned to you or in discussion with others.
  • Find opportunities where you’re forced to speak in English with locals or with other international students either by volunteering or participating in more social events.

All of this will no doubt increase your employability skills when you return home, or even if you decide to move abroad elsewhere.

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