More than wanderlust – Why Africans study abroad
By Lynda Wamuthiani
Since one of our main themes are education and employability, the process of interviewing our candidates gives us great insight into what makes students, graduates and alumni tick – and what doesn’t. Their motivation to go abroad for their studies, for example, is far and wide-reaching. Some of it stems from educational inefficiencies in African countries, prestige associated with having lived abroad and even from the curiosity of discovering the world. Here is an overview of what they share with us.
Each motivation varies, but decisions are made in light of career development
Needless to say there are always those who have had their own share of experience with wanderlust. But what we perceived most often was the personal aspiration for high-quality education and qualification. Those who can afford to, are lucky to get a scholarship or risk to become a free mover to attend a university in Europe, North America or any other continent outside of Africa make the most they can of their opportunity. The acquisition of better skills and better knowledge was one of the most frequently given answers, followed by the goal to become better employees or business people, or simply to grow as a person.
Graduates know what is expected of them in the workplace, not only in Africa but all over the world
“Studying abroad was a choice I made after becoming aware that there are limited opportunities for growth in Kenya”, said Patricia (Architecture). “Culinary Arts Degrees are only offered up to the diploma level in Kenya. … My experience in Switzerland was therefore amazing”, was Stacey’s statement (Culinary Arts). “Acquiring knowledge and skills that are not available at the same level in East Africa, such as programming languages and conventions for robots, automated manufacturing and control systems” was a motivation for Leon (Mechatronics Engineering). And these extracts are just a few.
Interestingly, “getting a more hands-on-experience in the teaching methods” was an often mentioned factor by our interview partners as well. It is therefore our conclusion that already at the undergraduate level do students have sense for what is expected of them in the workplace. This grows even stronger at the graduate level, especially in terms of their attractiveness as an employee, not only in Africa but all over the world. This is why they correctly assume that hands-on-experience starts with the right university education.
Bulls eye? If it’s a job that truly interests and inspires you!
In the end, what becomes particularly exciting is when our candidates graduate and are able to secure a job position in an area that truly interests and inspires them – whether in their home country or anywhere else. In any case, they find themselves at a leveraged position due to their intercultural exposure, the latter being no less than the essence of an educated, determined and open mindset which makes more and more African Millennials stand out.
Granted, pinpointing areas of study can be a difficult choice nowadays. Options range from Architecture, Electrical Engineering, IT and Programming to Cultural Diplomacy, Predictive Analytics in Marketing and Biomolecular Pharmacology… You name it! This is why our advise to any future African student who is about to leave their continent can make an impact as there is hardly an area not relevant to the economic and social rise of the African continent.