Workplace standards are constantly evolving, and cross-cultural skills acquired through international education are fast becoming an important consideration for many employers.
According to representatives from six UK universities and colleges present at the recent European Union Higher Education Fair (EHEF), more Filipino students have been coming to the fair each year to inquire about higher education opportunities that lead to globally recognized degrees.
Nicholas Thomas, country director of British Council Philippines, says that the high quality of study and research, world-leading universities, and internationally recognized degrees attract Filipinos to a UK education, as well as the increased employability that one can get with a UK degree.
“UK degrees are aligned with what employers want. The education and industry sectors work closely to make sure that students learn and develop what the workplace needs now and can adapt to what it would need in the future,” Thomas shares.
The universities and colleges from the UK that participated in this year’s EHEF are Hult International Business School, BPP University, Queen Mary University of London, University of West London, and University of Sunderland. Astrum Education, a group of sixth form colleges in London that provides private education for students aged 16 to 18 years, was also present at this year’s EHEF.
“Amid the improving Philippine economy, we have seen more Filipino students applying to our University as they are seeing more and more the value in obtaining a UK degree that comes with international work experience,” notes Rita Ren of Queen Mary University of London.
“In this year’s fair, we’ve seen an increase in interest to pursue further studies abroad,” adds Julie Ko of the Hult International Business School. “A lot of international companies are coming here seeking people with better qualifications, and this has encouraged more individuals to get better credentials abroad, which they can apply once they come back to the country.”
The University of West London offers Masters programs in hospitality that one can complete in a year, followed by work placement in a UK company for another year. “Our courses allow the students to have work experience in the UK, which will look good in their CV and help them find good jobs wherever they go,” shares Robert Sozanski from the University of West London.
Vivian Chow of the University of Sunderland, whose tourism courses have an optional work-based learning module to integrate a vocational aspect in the degree, adds how it’s important to be thoroughly informed of the degree one chooses. “It’s crucial that you’re sure about the course you’re choosing. Thorough research can help you decide better when figuring out what to pursue.”
Echoing the value of a higher education qualification, Laura Muller of the BPP University, whose programs are focused on corporate training and continuing professional education, says that a degree that is up-to-date with current industry practices and needs locally and internationally lets the graduate stay ahead of the curve. “He or she will be able to demonstrate to the employer that he has the skills the employer needs now and perhaps in the next 20 years.”
Meanwhile, studying overseas at an early age in a college brings benefits to students who will continue on to a degree course, by enabling them to be better accustomed to the UK style of education. Astrum Education’s sixth form colleges offer bridging programs for Filipino students who want to enter the best universities in the UK.
“Students from the Philippines from Grade 10 can do two years of A-levels with us, as well as students who have done K-12 and need a foundation year to get up to the level that the high-ranked UK universities will look for,” shares Jane Elliott of Astrum Education.
Besides the professional edge that one can get from a UK degree, international students can also bring with them their experiences of having lived in the UK wherever they go. “I stayed in London for one year and the experience was great. Classes involved sitting in with people of different nationalities and learning about their cultures,” shares Ko, who also studied in Hult International Business School.
“It’s important to join clubs and societies to maximize your stay in the country,” adds Ren, who also graduated from Queen Mary University of London. “I met a lot of new people in societies, which allowed me to come back home with a more rewarding UK experience.”
Various modes of financial aid are also available for Filipinos interested to study in the UK. “There are a lot of available scholarship opportunities, from the Chevening Scholarship scheme, to scholarships from individual institutions or departments,” shares Thomas.
“For individuals who are considering studying in the UK, the British Council helps facilitate connections with education institutions and give advice on studying in the UK. We are confident that an educational qualification from the UK can open up excellent opportunities and will give the graduate an edge in the job market anywhere she goes. We look forward to welcoming more participants in next year’s EHEF,” he concluded.