International experience is important... or..?

Skrevet af Jannick Friis ChristensenJesper Snedker Adamsen, (versioning) - Foto: Niels Poulsen - 24. juni 2014 - 16:030 kommentarer
A study shows that international experience does not positively affect - and maybe even has a negative influence on - salary and employment. However, this is not the case for CBS graduates, claims the International Office at CBS.

An analysis of new graduates shows that a period abroad does not have any effect in relation to unemployment and salary. Danish businesses do not reward international experience, says head of the Danish Association of Masters and PhDs. 

Going abroad can be an own goal

Plenty of reasons can justify going abroad for a semester either on exchange or in the form of an internship. However, if you do it hoping that this will improve your chances of getting a job in Denmark or a better salary, then you might want to reconsider whether going abroad is worthwhile.

An analysis conducted by the University of Copenhagen for the Danish Association of Masters and PhDs, an organization for highly educated professionals, shows that there is either no or a directly negative effect from going abroad to work or study.

It is mainly for new graduates that the absence of a positive effect of going abroad is evident. International experience does not significantly affect the annual unemployment rate; however, it does affect wages as new graduates can earn an average of DKK 30,000 more annually by not going abroad.

No reward for international experience

This discouraging conclusion of the analysis should not convince master students to stay at home, as it is positive to obtain international experience, also during the duration of your education, says the head of the Danish Association for Masters and PhDs.

- Danish businesses scream for international competencies, they just have to act on it and actually start rewarding international experience, says Ingrid Stage.

She thinks it is sad that going abroad is not considered to be an advantage. Still, she is not surprised by the results of the analysis:

- The issue has been presented anecdotally to me by our members throughout the past 10 years and unfortunately this report has now confirmed what our members have been saying, Ingrid Stage notices.

International experience not necessarily the top priority

Mette Fjord Sørensen, director of education and research policy with the Danish Chamber of Commerce, radically disagrees with the results presented by the Danish Association of Masters and PhDs.

- From our own studies we know that staying abroad is not necessarily the top priority, says Mette Fjord Sørensen and points to the fact that a job abroad is not considered to be a qualification in itself.

- Still, international experience is important and I actually think that exchange or internships should be a compulsory part of Danish university programs, she adds.

Exchange does pay off – for CBS graduates

The Danish Chamber of Commerce’s notion that international experience is not completely irrelevant is shared by director of the International Office at CBS, Tom Dahl-Østergaard.

However, Tom Dahl-Østergaard questions whether or not the conclusions of the analysis from the Danish Association of Masters and PhDs can be applied to CBS students, among other reasons because the analysis only involves new graduates and not current students.

- I consider it to be a misconception that salary and employment conditions after graduation relating to graduates associated with the Danish Association of Masters and PhDs should indicate anything in relation to the significance of a stay abroad during the duration of the education – not to mention the significance for students at CBS, Tom Dahl-Østergaard points out and explains:

- Our students are future business professionals and therefore, for obvious reasons, it is especially important that they are exposed to the international environment during their education.

Tom Dahl-Østergaard has just returned from the US where he attended the annual international education fair, which had a record 10,000 participants this year.

- That is a strong indication of the internationalization of university education and shows that there are many relevant stakeholders who believe that it is indeed an advantage for students to have international experience, Tom Dahl-Østergaard explains and elaborates with a specific example:

- The CEO of Boston Consulting Group told me last year at their award show, that 75-80 percent of their new recruitments are CBS graduates and that every single one of them has stayed abroad during their education. 

You can read more about the conclusions of the report here. (The report is published in Danish only).