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Australian Degrees in Malaysia

Overseas Degrees vs. Local Degrees: Which One Is Better?

Published by Afterschool.my on May 04, 2018, 12:53 pm

Does an overseas degree make you more employable? The ongoing attempt to find the answer to this million-dollar question has resulted in much uproar. Even with the backing of proper statistics, individuals from either side continue to be protective of their positions. “How dare you say a foreign graduate is better than me?” yells the local graduate. “How could you think a local graduate is more employable than me?” shoots back the graduate with an overseas degree. Who, then, is right? Today, we attempt to tackle the volatile topic and settle the matter, once and for all.

A wholesome experience

Studying in Australia can provide a wholesome experience for students as they get to explore a different educational environment, gain a world-class education, be exposed to a wide range of opportunities and different styles of teaching, and interact with people from different backgrounds. Students who go abroad are exposed to a – and this is key – different type of education. Again, not better, merely different. Students who go to Australia for their degree experience a different culture, different issues and have to adapt differently. But, does this difference translate to better opportunities or better pay when they return home?

The perception of obtaining an international degree

According to QS Global Employer Survey 2011 carried out by university rankings extraordinaire Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), six out of 10 employers worldwide would give students with an overseas degree a slight edge. Most notably, German, Spanish and Swiss employers have a proclivity to pick graduates with an international experience."I think this definitely gives me an edge and interesting stories and experiences to share – giving me the upper hand in a pool of graduates I would otherwise be on par with", says Emilie Ronald from the US, who obtained her bachelor's degree in Paris and master's in London. Steve Geinitz, a fellow American who pursued his PhD in Switzerland says, "Getting away from what you have always known and interacting with people from other parts of the world forces you to look at the world from someone else's point of view. Not only does this help me communicate more effectively, it helps me to empathise more readily."


Language competency

A common perception is that students studying abroad possess better English than students who study locally. Why, you ask. Well, simply because students are forced to converse in English when overseas, in line with the old adage ‘practice make perfect’. This, however, is rather short-sighted, seeing as the onus is firmly on the student to make an effort to converse and eventually improve his English. A student overseas could just as easily choose to hang out with fellow Malaysians and scarcely converse in English. 


Better work performance?

 Having said all that, a study conducted by Jobstreet states that overseas graduates earn approximately 12% more than local graduates in the private sector. According to the Malaysian Employers Federation’s executive director Shamsuddin Bardan, overseas graduates perform better at work as they generally demonstrate better communication skills, open-mindedness, adaptability and confidence.

But what if you studied at the most esteemed university, received the best education and did an internship at the richest oil company, yet your skills are similar to those who didn't accomplish all of these? In other words, we would like to stress that not all graduates from Harvard become a Zuckerberg. While the university has earned its streak of awards and rankings and produced highly successful graduates, what matters most in attaining success is your initiative to learn.


No difference in hiring rate

On the flip side, a study conducted by The Straits Times concluded that it makes no difference to employers whether a student has an overseas or local degree. In the study, three out of four companies in a pool of 214 showed no bias, rating both types of graduates as having similar levels of intelligence. A study done by Hoo et al came to the same conclusion, finding that employers generally hire both groups of graduates at the same rate. So then, with such contrasting conclusions drawn, what is the answer?


The answer is remarkably simple, if one knows where to look. The crux of the matter lies not in where the graduate comes from but, rather, the graduate himself. The qualities cited in the studies that give overseas graduates an edge aren’t exclusive to them and can just as easily be learnt by a local graduate. Mastery of the English language, adaptability and confidence can all be picked up if one is proactive and strives to improve, whether he is studying locally or abroad. As time passes, the importance of your qualification will slowly but surely diminish and your work experience takes precedence. The answer, then, is that it all boils down to the student.


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