Employment and Quality of Education Key Motivators for Transnational Students

Published by EDNET.ae, this video details the key elements of the 2017 study


International education services firm BMI Media, in partnership with Dubai International Academic City, have released the findings of an in-depth market research study titled, ‘Transnational Student Mobility and Future Employment Trends in 2017’, an essential component of the inaugural UAE International Education Week.

Based on a wide-ranging survey analysing 2,700 students aged 17 to 25 from 50 countries, the study’s objective was to provide a better understanding of transnational student needs and future employment preferences from a wide range of developing countries in the GCC, Asia and South America. Students were asked to answer questions on topics such as their preferred study destination, reasons for choosing said country, perceived obstacles and more.


Most notably, quality of education and likelihood of later employment were the two key reasons for a student to travel for an education and consequently the reasons for choosing a particular country.

Many of those who travel for an education do so because of limited options in their home country; employers local to them therefore place great value on international qualifications, a distinct motivator for the travelling student. It was also noted that, especially in relation to employment, students will view their education as an investment, with international experience valued both during and following the conclusion of courses. Indeed, 69% of respondents suggested their preference would be to stay in their country of study for at least the medium term.

Work experience a key motivator for international students when choosing a study abroad destination

Work experience was listed as the most valued extra-curricular activity for students, with obstacles to student employment often deterring some students entirely. Countries such as Australia, Canada, the UAE and Ireland were in part so successful in the survey due to their allowance of work during term-time. School clubs and career fairs also ranked highly, particularly in reference to those that allow the student an increased chance of further employment or ability to network.

A further finding was the success of the UAE in reference to the respondents’ preferred destination country. The UAE was ranked with similar popularity as Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland, while also outranking traditional favourite destinations like Singapore, China and South Korea.

Other key findings from the study include:

  • Business, management and STEM programmes were the most popular, with language courses also highly valued.
  • Quality of life and safety were very important for travelling students.
  • A growing base of students (11%) are looking to begin their own business ventures and universities may benefit from additional entrepreneurship development programmes.
  • Student accommodation and education facilities rank higher than extracurricular facilities such as sports or community in the students’ consideration.

These findings were released as a part of the inaugural UAE International Education Week, organised by BMI. Held from the 18th to 23rd October, the week was made up of workshops, fairs and private meetings including the Gulf International Schools Workshop, UAE Global Educations Fairs, and the BMI Gulf Scholarship Summit. UAE International Education Week aims to attract regional and international students to Dubai, a growing global education hub, by providing essential information on how to select the best institution, course, and country for higher education.

The ‘Transnational Student Mobility and Future Employment Trends in 2017’ study is available to download on the DIAC website.

The second volume of the study, focusing on universities and their operations, was launched in 2018 – read our release here.