I have graduated from my university in Australia as an international student 4 years ago. It was my personal intention to transfer to an international education after studying 2 years in one of the top institutions in Beijing. Looking back, the study abroad opportunity has given me a cultural immersion to a completely different education system and a chance to widen my perspectives on my career path. But most importantly, it has empowered me with the confidence to work in Australia, India and now The Netherlands despite the geographical and cultural barrier.
In face of globalization, why should universities have a stronger focus on bringing a global perspective in designing their curriculums?
- To be prepared for the global competition
The world is shrinking with people’s ability to communicate across physical borders. Millennials and Generation Z are graduating from university facing no longer a competition from universities in the same country, but a global job market with equal access of information, knowledge and accessibility to employment. With decades of focus on secondary and tertiary education in rising economies such as India and China, these two countries are only producing 12 million graduates annually. Many of these talents have a strong focus on STEM background. Only in 20 years, China has increased the number of students enrolled in higher education from 6 million to almost 40 million. So how are the universities preparing their students to compete in the already challenging job market?
- Technology is enabling more companies to have a global market
I live in the Netherlands. I open my phone today. I listen to music from Spotify (from Sweden), I order takeaways from Deliveroo (from UK) and I shop on Alibaba (from China). When I call customer service for my mobile data, I hear fluent English with Indian accent on the other side of the phone.
Technology has enabled companies to set up global teams, outsource operations across borders and more importantly, expand their business in different countries. Most likely, graduates today will enter a workplace that either need to work in a multicultural environment or handle operations at a regional or global scale. This clearly demands students to be equipped with skills to at least first communicate in a multicultural team, or deeper, to work with and excel in this environment.
- To resolve pressing global issues
The United Nations introduced the Global Goals – the Sustainable Development Goals – 18 months ago. These 17 Global Goals call upon governments, corporates and the non-governmental sector to resolve some of the most pressing issues in the world. If we look at any of these goals, be it Goal 4 – Quality Education or Goal 12 – Sustainable consumption, the only way to address these challenges successfully will be through international cooperation among governments and organizations of all kinds. These require young people today to have greater understanding of other cultures, social interaction, economy, politics and many other aspects.
According to AIESEC’s Global Youth Speak survey of 200K responses, educational institutions still stay as the most credible source of information for students. With such responsibility, we do sincerely ask for universities to take a more conscious role in developing competencies and understanding in their students to prepare for a global workspace transcending their efforts from academic spheres to more practical and professional experiences.2