INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: ACADEMIC,
EMPLOYABILITY AND CAREER OUTCOMES
‘PHYSICIAN HEAL THYSELF!’ LUKE 4:23
Bernie Quinn and Russ Rimmer
Queen Margaret University
International Hospitality and Tourism Research
To discuss employability issues for
prospective graduates of International
To highlight possible pitfalls for graduates
before entering industry
Consider employability as a hard concept not
just as a range of competencies
Consider Culture as an inhibitor or
Why study hospitality abroad?
Globally and cross-culturally relevant skills, experience and
Intensity of experience
Internationally recognised qualifications
‘Push’ of students’ domestic environments ‘Pull’ of attractions
of foreign study
Initiatives designed to foster study abroad
a professional hotel environment
study in Switzerland
studying in UK
Ready for work when graduated
Improved remuneration and career prospects
Study, subsistence and leisure costs
Adjustment costs in new environment
New language/local usage; cost of acquisition
Different social, cultural, dietary regimes
Absence from familiar environment and networks
Financial and employment
Greater risk of academic failure in host system
Imperfect knowledge of international programmes
Which nation (UK, Switzerland, Australia, Belgium, …)?
Political, regulatory or social change in host country
Loss of reputation at host institution
Why Why not
For those who do, cost and risk are outweighed
by benefit and reward
Personality and background influence decision
How do students and parents assess benefit and
What information is available on
1. academic outcomes of programmes?
2. employability and work readiness?
3. remuneration and career progress?
4. influence of course philosophy and delivery?
5. Links between 1, 2, 3 and 4?
One view of some links
What is employability?
Employability of a graduate is the propensity of
the graduate to exhibit attributes that employers
anticipate will be necessary for the future
effective functioning of their organisation.
Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have been
forced to address the employability debate head
on, and the last decade in particular has seen an
unprecedented level of external pressure for
them to prove that the graduates they are
producing are ‘adding value’ to the economy
Is graduation a guarantee of suitable
How is employability actually measured?
97% of QMU International Hospitality
management students find employment
within 6 months of graduation (Quinn 2008)
If you cannot measure the system don’t touch
it (Quinn ad nauseum)
So why not really measure the system?>>>>
Theories and Theorists
One issue for the industry is the continual outpouring of more
theories by non practitioners who are not immersed in the
workplace; for example here is one suggested way to measure
Define the theoretical concept.
Break it down into dimensions that cover the meaning of the
Identify a range of indicators for each dimension.
Select one or more indicators for each dimension.
Design instruments to collect information on each indicator.
Decide whether to have a multi-dimensional set of indicators, an
array of indices or a single index.
Where appropriate, combine indicators into an index.
Harvey & McDonald, 1993)
Hotel Schools, FE & HE all attempt to prepare the
graduates for employment but all follow their own
‘routes to success’
Interaction does take place between employers and
academics but there does still appear to be a ‘gap’ in
Graduates are well prepared for the hospitality
industry when they have received a good mix of hard
skills as well as management theory
Students also leave with a wide range of
‘transferable skills’ that may lead them to other
appropriate employment avenues, not necessarily in
There is still a distinct lack of measurement of
the effectiveness of UK HE Hospitality
Continual ‘back slapping’ over graduates but no
long term vision of how to do it better
Much rhetoric over substance
Therefore future research will focus on the ‘how
to measure’ the employability of our graduates
and not just whether they are in a job!
We welcome your comments and suggestions!
Dacre Poole, L. and Sewell, P. (2007) A new practical model of
graduate employability [Accessed 14March 2010, Available online
Harvey, L. (2000) New Realities: The relationship between higher
education and employment. Tertiary Education and Management
Vol. 6 No. 1 (pp. 3-17)
Harvey, L. and MacDonald, M. (1993) Doing Sociology: A practical
introduction. London: MacMillan
Luke (4:23) New International Version, The Bible
Maher, A. (2005) Embedding employability in the curriculum:
enhancing students career planning skills. HLST Network [
accessed 12 April 2010 Available online at
Quinn, B. (2008) Induction of International Students LINK 22
Employer Engagement (pp.12-13)