A survey of around 5,600 Japanese graduates has found that students with study abroad experience gain skills that are extremely beneficial for future job prospects, and also boast a higher quality of life than those who have not gained overseas experience.

New research has shown that mobile students have greater levels of satisfaction when it comes to their own relationships and lives outside of the work environment. These graduates also reported higher levels of confidence in their ability to learn a foreign language, and were generally much more likely to persevere with difficult tasks and communicate effectively.

The survey includes responses from 4,498 graduates who had studied abroad and 1,298 who had not, and answers were collated online between January and September, 2015.

Further research into the value of overseas study experience among employers has revealed that while few value short-term international experience, graduate career progression and rates of pay suggest that study abroad experience gives candidates a competitive advantage.

Hiroshi Ota, professor at Hitotsubashi University’s Center for Global Education and contributing author of the report, presented the findings at the recent APAIE conference in Melbourne. According to The PIE News, Ota claims that mobile, study abroad students gain soft skills that they can “put to use at work and underpin future progression”.

According to the survey, 88 percent of graduates who had previously spent three months at a university overseas felt their communication skills had significantly improved as a result of the experience, compared with just 50 percent of Japanese students who felt their communication had improved after studying at an institution in their home country.

Furthermore, 86 percent of study abroad graduates said the experience had given them a more positive outlook towards education, compared with 49 percent of non-mobile students; plus, 79 percent of mobile students claimed to effectively deal with stress compared with just 48 percent of Japanese students who remained at home.

Employers, on the other hand, only really seem to value long-term overseas experience, with 38 percent claiming they consider a period of 12 months abroad to be of value, whereas less than four percent of employers consider a period of between three to six months to be of any use.

“It can be interpreted that the effects of study abroad as manifested in qualities, motivations and attitude are valued more highly than study abroad in itself,” the report notes.

In addition to career benefits, the survey found that Japanese study abroad graduates also enjoy a higher quality of life, since 69 percent of mobile respondents claimed to be in either strong or relative agreement with the phrase ‘I am satisfied with my life’, compared with 56 percent of non-mobile who were not.

Shingo Ashizawa, professor of the University of Tokyo and another author of the study, told The PIE News that further research into data collected will enable researchers to evaluate the impact of overseas study experience, and use this information to better inform universities, businesses and governments on a global scale.

Additional reporting by The PIE News.

Image via Shutterstock.

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