From education to employment

How diversity in university campuses can enrich students’ learning experiences

There has been a substantial increase in international student enrolment within the UK. During the 2020/2021 academic year, data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) reveals there were 605,130 international students who studied in the UK. For students coming from overseas destinations, such as Asia and Africa, the number of applications increased to new record levels. 

This is great news for UK students and universities. Diverse campuses increase cultural awareness, allow students the chance to learn from one another, and ultimately lead to more diverse communities nationwide.

So, what does the future look like for diversity on campus and what, if any, impact does this have on those studying in the UK?

Recent government data reveals international students make up around 22% of the UK’s student population and data from UCAS, predicts there will be a 46% increase in international undergraduate applications over the next 3-4 years. The number of students accepted is expected to remain at a relatively stable level. Reason being, UK institutions have a set number of spaces for international students.

This is great for diversity on campus as it brings together students from all over the world to learn and grow from each other which in turn helps students become better-positioned for the workforce.

How does diversity impact learning?

Diversity in the classroom is proven to promote students’ learning outcomes and enrich the learning experience. In fact, research published by the New York based think-tank, The Century Foundation, found that having differing perspectives in the classroom can have a positive impact on learning outcomes.

Classrooms that have a diverse cohort have enhanced learning outcomes and increased collaboration and innovation. This comes down to the opportunity to learn from people from all walks of life.

Diversity on campus can also help to eradicate stereotypes that may have developed during primary or secondary school education. It is important that we not only normalise diversity, but encourage it. Ultimately, education teaches students the fundamentals which are required in the workplace. This is key to preparing the next generation of the UK’s workforce.

Many of the skills which are absorbed, and often acquired, during studies help people to navigate their way through careers in new environments –  fundamentally, setting them up to flourish in the workplace.

The transition from education

A diverse workforce is something many job seekers look for, as diverse companies are thought to promote an inclusive culture. Prospective employees want representation, they want to see themselves in the team and imagine themselves working there. A genuinely diverse workplace has the potential to draw skilled candidates to their talent pool, and improve employee engagement.

Employees are increasingly more interested in company values over money; therefore, it has never been more important to ensure that a company is genuinely diverse and inclusive in its hiring process, and thereafter.

Diversity is not something that can simply be mentioned in the job description to capture the attention of future applicants, instead it needs to be at the core of what the company does.

The benefits of diversity go beyond attracting talent. A recent study from McKinsey reveals that in 2019, top-quartile companies outperformed those in the fourth one by 36% in profitability The study also reaffirms the importance of gender diversity and ethnic and cultural diversity in corporate leadership.

To add to this further, research from Deloitte reveals that organisational leaders believe a sense of belonging is important to their employees. In fact, almost all leaders surveyed (93%) believe  a sense of belonging influences performance within their organisation, while more than three quarters (79%) said that having a culture which gives employees a sense of belonging was important to their success.

To conclude, the UK’s workforce is evolving. Evidence shows that organisations which foster a diverse culture are ultimately more successful. The UK benefits immensely from the renowned reputation it has as a welcoming study abroad destination. By attracting top talent around the world, the UK is then able to build a prosperous and innovative workforce full of diverse workers across the country. This ultimately has a positive impact on the UK’s economy and diversity among communities.  

To help ensure the next generation of workers is diverse and to build strong learning environments, it’s important for universities to make sure they’re taking the steps to encourage diversity on campus.

By Meti Basiri, co-founder and CMO of ApplyBoard, the international student recruitment platform.

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