Recently we launched a CQ test for students.

Fundamentally, Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is something that you cannot test on paper. The real test of how much Cultural Intelligence you have ultimately has to be decided by other people from other cultures.

We launched the CQ test as a way to get students thinking about Cultural Intelligence and what it means to be at a university - surrounded by a multitude of students from different cultures.

So far, well over 300 people have completed the test and the results make for interesting reading.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of people who took the test did so in the UK (59% of people). But we received a wide range of responses from 29 countries of the world, representing 6 continents.

Positive signs

Two of the most positive results on the test came from the questions: I am known to have friends from many different cultures (where 80.5% of people reported that they do) and I have made a friend in the last year who was born over 7,000 miles away from me (where 69.5% of people reported that they have)

The results also showed that 79.3% of respondents 'never' avoid people who don't speak their language fluently.


It's hard to imagine that these numbers would be so high 100, 50 or even 20 years ago. Currently, 4 million students travel to study and by the year 2020, that number set to double. What these results show is that different cultures are mixing and in many cases are describing their relationships as friendships.

The Downside

Although the results of the CQ test would so far suggest that students are mixing - and are willing to mix - worrying conclusions can be drawn from the fact that this interaction does not seem to be coupled with an inherent change in openness and introspection. Cultural Intelligence is not simply increased by interacting with people who are different to you, but by finding inherent clashes between cultures, exploring them and deciding what that means for you and your own views and beliefs.

For example, nearly half of all people asked (48.2%) describe that they have not found a bias they did not know they had in the last 12 months.

This would indicate that despite high interaction between cultures, students are not using this interaction to question their own views and biases.

Even more worryingly, when asked, 'I am ashamed of myself for not standing up when I witness cultural intolerance' only 18.6% of people responded 'often' and a staggering 40.2% of people responded 'never'


Despite a willingness to interact with other cultures, it would still seem that students are not taking the opportunity to really explore other cultures fully. This is worryingly shown in the fact that high numbers of students are not fully considering the problems of cultural intolerance.

Perhaps the reason for this is that, even though students are open to the opportunity to develop Cultural Intelligence, they do not have the context nor the conditions to fully make the most of it. Without a model to explore their own Cultural Intelligence, and without a platform to meet other students in a more heated and discursive context, students are missing the chance to develop the skills that will allow them to cross cultural boundaries in the future

Common Purpose is running Global Leader Experiences in the 50 Magnet Cities of the world. A Magnet City has students from over 100 countries studying in it. So that students don't just graduate as Economists and Engineers. They are also networked, responsible, global leaders with Cultural Intelligence.