Research Study: Impact of Student Mobility and Extracurricular engagement

Front cover of the report

In April 2020 U21 published a piece of original research, ‘Exploring the impact of student mobility and extracurricular engagement on academic performance and graduate outcomes’.

The study offers new insights into students’ experiences of internationalised higher education, and makes recommendations for the sector to support students in unlocking the potential benefits of these experiences for their personal and professional development. 

Studying abroad is often heralded as the premier opportunity for students to enhance their employability. Although not all students can or wish to study abroad, there has been a lack of research into the corresponding impacts of home-based extracurricular activities on students' development. The study therefore explores both types of activities through a combination of participant interviews and graduate outcomes datasets.

The study finds that both studying abroad and extracurricular engagement offer gains to students in alignment with the CareerEDGE employability model. Students who studied abroad reported slightly higher rates of postgraduate study and academic performance, were less likely to be unemployed, but also reported lower average first employment earnings, compared to their counterparts who did not study abroad. However, variance in discipline, gender, and internships/placements are also considered as possible contributing factors. A guided reflective process is argued to be a key element in maximising gains for any lived experiences and translating them into employability gains.