Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, Fifth International Conference on Higher Education Advances

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International undergraduate business students' perceptions of employability
Eszter Kiss, Michelle Barker, Parlo Singh

Last modified: 25-06-2019


Graduate employability is a highly contested topic by education providers, employers and governments.  The responsibility of universities to enhance students’ employability through work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities is also debated.

This study explored international students’ understanding of employability skills and their self-perceptions of their employability at an Australian university. It also investiaged students’ perception of the universities’ role in enhancing employability. A qualitative approach informed by Social Cognitive Career Theory (Lent, Brown & Hackett, 1994), used multiple focus groups comprising 18 international undergraduate students from Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Papua New Guinea, South Korea in their final semester at an urban Australian university.

The key findings are: (1) Participants were unable to differentiate between employability skills, personality traits and job-specific skills; (2) The importance of social skills and networking were recognised by Chinese respondents, in particular; (3) The perceived level of work-readiness was higher among respondents who had previous work experience; (4) The inclusion of more practical WIL components in the degree program calls for curriculum review; (5) Creating opportunities for students to apply their knowledge and skills in professional contexts is highly desirable. The findings highlight curriculum considerations needed in the development of high-quality WIL experiences that will enable students to apply the knowledge and skills learnt in the classroom, thus enhancing their self-efficacy about their employability.

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