Laureate International Universities and Monash South Africa present a worldwide index of student attitudes on higher education.
South African youth are echoing their global peers, with 97% voicing a need for universities to equip them in taking on educated entrepreneurial and leadership roles in society. This is according to a global index of student attitudes compiled by Laureate International Universities and Zogby Analytics. Local partner and part of the Laureate International Universities network since 2013; Monash South Africa (MSA) conducted the survey at the South African campus.

Global survey reveals students want universities to skill them in entrepreneurship - Image credit Monash South Africa

Global survey reveals students want universities to skill them in entrepreneurship - Image credit Monash South Africa
Esther Benjamin, CEO of MSA and CEO of Africa Operations Laureate International Universities says, “This survey is part of an ongoing dialogue with students to address their needs and empower them with skills relevant to South African and global markets. As a private educator, we play a critical role in grooming the future leaders and workforce of growing economies. For this reason, being agile and responsive to market needs is a priority.  As strong student outcomes are of the utmost importance it is vital that we are able to respond to the needs of our students as well as the employment market.”
The 2015 Laureate/Zogby Student Survey includes the responses of more than 23,000 Laureate students and more than 4,000 non-Laureate students across 22 countries and provides unique insights on students’ perceptions regarding tertiary education. The 2015 survey provides one of the most comprehensive studies of student perspectives on international higher education.
In addition to being entrepreneurially-minded, 76% of South African students saw innovation as a central aspect of the university curriculum. This is 10% above the global trend. Suggestions for innovation included career-orientated education, paid apprenticeships and employer-run courses. There was an undeniable focus on being practically equipped for the workforce.  
“In an increasingly competitive job market, students not only want their educators to provide them with skills, but with a reliable bridge into employment,” emphasised Benjamin. This was a priority both globally and locally, with 93% of students agreeing that universities need to work directly with employers to ensure they teach students the skills they need to be successful. This emphasises a need for corporate South Africa to become involved early in students’ education, in order to shape their careers.
Interestingly, the Laureate survey also highlighted an overwhelming global trend towards ‘doing good’.  Over 85% of all students considered it essential to apply their skills to social and environmental causes. 88% of South African students wanted to empower those less fortunate and 89% were concerned with protecting the environment.
Benjamin adds, “This trend is clearly visible in MSA’s focus on corporate social responsibility initiatives, many of which are initiated and led by the students themselves. This year, the global “Here for Good” award, which recognises the social impact of students from across the Laureate network, was won by one of our South African students, Lebo Sekhotla for her education initiative for local school learners. Nearly a third of our students participate in some form of volunteerism. Last year alone, over 650 students completed 15, 000 hours of tutoring, benefitting learners in 50 schools.”
The survey also found that students worldwide are optimistic that their education is leading them toward career success.  More than 75% of students believe that their course of study will give them the career skills necessary to succeed.  Additionally, the majority of respondents believe career and life prospects will be better for students in the future. This indicates that, in an unstable global economy, students are looking to high-quality education to differentiate themselves.
“Access to quality higher education is a catalyst for transforming lives and societies,” said Douglas L. Becker, the founder, chairman and CEO of Laureate Education, Inc.  “Meeting students’ expectations and delivering on a promise to provide them with the skills to meet their career aspirations should be the goals of every university.”
On the basis of the 2015 survey, Laureate and Zogby developed the first-of-its-kind global Student Confidence Index, a two-part index that tracks students’ attitudes on the current state of higher education and its future. Laureate students, including those at MSA, were generally more confident than students outside the Laureate network (53% versus 44%) about the quality of higher education in their respective countries.
“This survey demonstrates that Laureate is offering the right kind of education to its growing student population,” concluded Benjamin.  “Employability is of the utmost importance to our students, we are working hard to exceed the expectations of our students through the education we deliver at MSA and our survey shows Laureate students believe they are receiving all the tools they need to have a bright future in the working world.”

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