Why universities need students with an international outlook
“This ability to collaborate with people from around the world is crucial for the next generation of innovators”
Leading universities are increasingly attracting ‘global students’ with international views and experiences, says Harry Hortyn, co-founder of Oxford Summer Courses.
It’s a competitive world out there, and students aspiring to a successful career not only need the right qualifications, they should also be able to demonstrate they have what it takes to thrive in a global marketplace.
The research taking place in university laboratories, studios and libraries today will shape the way we live tomorrow. And to enable the brightest minds from across the world to collaborate effectively and share ideas, universities need their students to have an international outlook.
Deanna Ford, Harvard graduate and member of their interview committee sees strong evidence of greater international awareness among students embarking on their studies: “You have to remember that, in the business world, taking a global view is second nature which is why these places look for globally minded applicants.”
The competitive edge
With the world’s top universities building global awareness and exposure into their programs, other institutions will surely follow suit. In a time of greater international mobility in higher education, it makes sense for young people to develop a global view.
Deanna believes that giving children the opportunity to develop a broader cultural perspective is not only desirable, but it’s also essential.
“In America, where I live, school summer holidays are three months long. It’s usual for children to go to summer camps for up to six weeks, and my own children have attended international ones in the UK since they were 11.
“With the world’s top universities building global awareness and exposure into their programs, other institutions will surely follow suit”
“I think it prevents them from living in an American bubble. They learn so much from mixing with children from Europe, India and Asia, and get to understand different perspectives and points of view that will serve them well in the future.”
This ability to collaborate with people from around the world is crucial for the next generation of innovators, according to Dr Saroj Velamakanni, a guest lecturer at Cambridge University who sits on the interview panel for medicine and natural sciences.
“Students need to demonstrate cross-cultural experience, and the potential to interact and work with different cultures in business. We can’t only look to Europe for innovative medical developments, for example – we have to look at Hong Kong, China and India if we want to be top of our game.”
Saroj believes that students with a global view have a great deal to contribute to their university and to wider society. “I still remember one student who had spent time in a top Indian hospital before he applied. He spoke about developments there; how artificial intelligence was improving efficiency and how he envisaged we could use the same thing in the UK. It was the perfect marriage of ideas and aptitude.”
Universities should make sure they nurture their students’ international outlook throughout their studies, and in an era of increased global mobility in higher education, there are many ways this can be achieved. Saroj recommends that institutions encourage students to explore opportunities to work and study overseas and investigate internships, camps and stints with NGOs.
This will help to create a truly global student with the ability to make a contribution to society on a worldwide scale. “Learning is a constant process,” says Saroj, “which is why it is so important to develop a deep curiosity about new ideas and new experiences from within, but also outside of your home country.”
About the author: Harry Hortyn is the co-founder of Oxford Summer Courses.