Researchers surveyed 749 mobility participants and ran 17 student focus groups for the Short-term Mobility: Long-term Impact report, which was published recently.
The report found that programmes of up to four weeks offered highly focused activities that delivered significant personal and professional impact – improving students’ employment opportunities and paving the way for future international experiences.
Value for lower income groups
Significant advantages were reported around employability, with 53% of participants who had undertaken a short-term placement and are now in work feeling that the experience helped them get their job. Some 83% of this group felt their mobility had been beneficial to their career.
Students also reported increases in personal skills, with almost all participants seeing improved self-confidence (88%), communication abilities (93%), adaptability (93%), and intercultural and interpersonal skills (89%).
The research also found that the benefits of shorter mobilities are particularly felt by students from lower-income households and those with caring responsibilities, who are under-represented in traditional programmes, because disruption to their existing studies and home life is minimised.
Helping HEIs expand international offer
In his foreword to the report MP Chris Skidmore, co-chair of the All-Party Group on Universities, said: “Study placements do not have to be lengthy to provide these moments of inspiration that can have an impact of a lifetime. The challenge is ensuring that as many students as possible get to experience these opportunities, and to have an equal chance to share the wonderful and memorable fulfilment, no matter how short, that studying abroad can deliver.”
Professor Alexandra Hughes, deputy vice-chancellor global engagement and employability at the University of Westminster and chair of the project’s steering group said: “This project tells us that shorter programmes which fit around existing commitments allow students who may not otherwise have considered a period abroad to take one up.”
Among the report’s conclusions is: “The recent introduction of the UK’s own student mobility programme, the Turing Scheme, will allow institutions to expand their portfolio of short-term mobilities, as well as fund programmes of four weeks and more. This will be particularly welcome to ensure increased participation in outward mobility among students from the most disadvantaged groups.”