'Studying overseas opens your mind. It shows you a different perspective on life and allows a person to see outside of the box' says Meaghan Smith who studied her undergraduate degree at Monash University.
Meaghan, now a self-employed photographer, spent a semester studying at the University of Gajah Mada Yogyakarta in Indonesia as part of her degree, making her one of the 30,000 Australian students who go overseas each year to study.
The number of Australians studying overseas has been rising over the past few years as more young people decide to pass on the ritual 'working in a London pub' experience in search of far more exciting and rewarding opportunities.
In 2006, a study by the Queensland government found that '...not only is it beneficial for a graduate to have overseas experience in their portfolio today, but obtaining that experience will become more and more crucial for ambitious students in the years to come'.
Fast-forward to 2015, and schemes like the Australian Government's OS-HELP loan scheme and New Colombo Plan aren't just making it more accessible, but increasing the value of international study experiences.
Marine Hautemont, Director of AIM Overseas, the Australian Institute for Mobility Overseas, says, 'The days of simply finishing a degree and expecting to get the job you want are over.'
'International study experience like student exchanges, short courses, internships or volunteering are becoming critical for students who want to differentiate themselves from the crowd.'
The Australian universities themselves have long realised this and are putting their money where their mouth is. Several institutions offer more than a million dollars worth of travel grants to help their students to study overseas.
In a survey of past participants, AIM Overseas found that out of over 300 respondents:
- More than 70% of students who had studied overseas 'strongly agreed' with the statement that their international study experience 'had changed their life'
- 59% had been asked questions in interviews about their overseas study experience.
- 30% said it had 'helped them get ahead in their career'
- 99% considered that 'an international study experience was an important/desired graduate outcome'
- 90% agreed with the statement 'I recommend that every student should try to study overseas at some time.'
'If there is a lesson to be learned in this' says Marine Hautemont from AIM Overseas 'it is that students and parents should not just think about whether or not an overseas study experience is worth undertaking, but exactly what experience is right for them'.
Rob MalickiDirector, AIM Overseas