Based on survey response from 1,371 New Colombo Plan students and alumni, the report also found a correlation between the top eight host countries (Japan, Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Republic of Korea, India, Singapore, Malaysia) for students and the top destinations of alumni for studying and working.
However, while 89% of students agreed that the experience was useful for their resumé, only 44% believed that it was valued by employers.
Short-term mobility students also described themselves as more satisfied with the experience than those who took part in long-term projects.
“Short-term mobility students are more satisfied with their learning abroad experience than long-term ones”
“Group difference analysis reported that while the Indo-Pacific learning abroad experience is considered equally important by short-term and long-term mobility students, there was a statistically significant difference between the two groups with regard to the extent to which the program meets their expectations (p=0.03),” said the report.
“Short-term mobility students are more satisfied with their learning abroad experience than long-term ones, with mean scores of 8.81 and 8.49 out of 10, respectively.”
The New Colombo Plan was set up in 2014 by the Australian government to promote study and work experiences for Australian undergraduates in the Indo-Pacific.
Its initial year supported 1,300 students and 40 scholars in four countries; it now supports around 10,000 students a year in 40 different locations, from Mongolia to the Cook Islands.
“The uptake and perceived value of learning abroad are strongly influenced by previous global experiences across the school and tertiary education sectors,” the report stated.
“Against this backdrop, outbound student mobility is situated and facilitated by institutions’ internationalisation agenda. Learning abroad is considered to be crucial to enhance students’ global outlooks, intercultural understandings, experiential learning, soft skills and employability.”
Almost one in four Australian undergraduate students take part in study abroad compared to 16% in the US, 11% in Canada and 7.4% in the UK. Almost half of those trips are within the Indo-Pacific region.
The report additionally suggested a variety of measures to improve study abroad experiences for students, from better pre-departure orientation and intensive language courses to greater cooperation between sending and host universities.
“One of the key recommendations is to embed short-term mobility experiences into the academic curriculum”
“One of the key recommendations by mobility practitioners, academics and hosts is to embed short-term mobility experiences into the academic curriculum of home and host universities (rather than being treated as add-on elements) to increase their impact and develop sustainable partnerships with institutions in the Indo-Pacific,” said the report.
“For home institutions, treating the NCP program as an integrated part of the educational curriculum would enable academics to see their broader educational objectives and therefore increase their motivation to engage with them.
“As up to 66% NCP alumni are interested in working in the Indo-Pacific region after mobility and appreciate the relationships with the hosts, host organisations could set up systems that support NCP alumni to maintain a connection with the region by putting alumni in contact with local employers.
“Connections with local organisations and pathways for alumni could be facilitated as early as when students are in country, particularly for scholarship programs.”