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Are Erasmus students more likely to get hired thanks to their mobility experience?

Erasmus is being promoted at many higher education institutions as providing a ‘plus’ on graduates’ CV, which would be valued by employers once they enter the labour market. However, very few studies investigated whether this really is the case. Researchers at Tilburg University (the Netherlands), the Erasmus Student Network (Belgium), the Autonomous University Madrid (Spain) and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) now addressed this gap in the academic literature through a field experiment – a methodology often used to investigate discrimination on the labour or housing market, whereby 2,100 fictitious applications of a student with a master degree in Economics were submitted to real job vacancies in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain. In these applications, the researchers systematically varied the characteristics of the CV and motivation letter in terms of whether the fictitious applicants went on Erasmus or not. In Greece, 700 employers were asked to evaluate these applications, resulting in 101 responses. Building upon the available and theoretical and empirical literature, hypothesis were made on: likelihood of graduates with study abroad experience being invited for a job interview, differences by the nationality of employers and the various methods of articulating the study abroad experience in motivation letters and how this could change the probability of an interview invite.


The results of the experiment consistently indicate that the popular assumption that employers take an Erasmus experience abroad into account when recruiting is not supported by the data produced, which focused on horizontal student mobility (international exchanges between higher education institutions of similar reputation) of Belgian, Dutch and Spanish master graduates in Economics. Furthermore, the results indicated that there is no advantage in describing the exchange period in a specific way in the motivation letter.


In the case of Greece, although the study methodology varies, results are similar, indicating studying abroad does not increase the likelihood of being invited for a job interview, and there is no advantage in describing the exchange period in a specific way in the motivation letter, for recent graduates in economic disciplines (as mentioned above). Greek employers mostly value previous relevant work experience and short and tailored CVs, rather than participation in an Erasmus+ exchange per se.


However, some caution on these results are needed. Firstly, the present publication includes two studies with experimental approaches, and the conclusions can only be considered for graduates with an Economics degree. Given the scarcity of experimental studies on the subject, the partners highly recommend to replicate this study in other national contexts, different disciplines, looking also to vertical mobility patterns (international exchanges with students moving to higher education institutions of higher ranking). Such studies would contribute to a more fine-grained understanding of the heterogeneity in outcomes of study abroad, both across countries and within countries (e.g. depending on the discipline or institution of graduation).


It is important to focus on the employer's perspective. It is essential to understand how employers assess study abroad experiences and raise awareness on the competences acquired by graduates during their study abroad experience. In this respect, our findings also suggest that besides better understanding the employers’ perspective, informing them about the benefits of study abroad might be urgently needed. The employer-oriented manual of the Erasmus Careers project, with the wider goal of contributing to a better connection of the

Erasmus+ Programme to the labour market, will be a first step in this regard. 


Find the whole document here.


Do you want to know more? Visit the project’s website.


 

This research was carried out in the framework of the Erasmus+ Key Action 2 Cooperation Partnership project: Erasmus Careers - 101049436

November 2023, Erasmus Careers Consortium

 

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.

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