Even in the best of times, international students’ decision to travel across the globe in search of education opportunities is courageous. Their journey is one of hope, aspiration, and, of course, some trepidation as they step into the unknown. When these students embarked on their studies abroad this year, however, a global pandemic added new layers of concern and uncertainty to their experience, sending them into uncharted waters.
The jobs of student experience specialists on whom these students rely to help them navigate uncertainty in their studies has never been so critical or challenging as they are during the COVID-19 crisis. We reached out to colleagues on the front lines across INTO’s university partnerships in the United States to learn more about their all-hands-on-deck approach to supporting international students in these uncertain times.
Ahead of this year’s university application cycle, international
students at the INTO London World Education Centre escaped a dreary,
late-January afternoon to attend the Centre’s seventh annual Progression Fair.
Held at Chapter Spitalfields, the residence INTO students
share with other international students in the heart of London’s East End, the
event gave students the chance to learn about the vast array of programmes on
offer directly from university representatives.
With 62 of INTO’s affiliate universities in the United Kingdom
represented, and with 140 INTO students in attendance, it was the largest
progression fair the Centre has had to date.
As 2019 concludes, those in the international education
community in the United States have much to reflect on. In November, the Institute of International
Education’s (IIE) 70th
Open Doors Report revealed that it has been a uniquely challenging year for
international student enrollment. Although
the nationwide decline in new international student enrollments (NSEs) slowed
from -6.6% in 2017/18 to -0.9% in 2018/19, 51% of American higher education
institutions reported a decrease in NSEs in 2019.
For INTO’s 12 American university partners, however, there were
a great deal of international student enrollment and education milestones in
2019—proof that there is every reason to believe things
can only get better in the American international education realm.
To kick off International Education Week, the Institute of International Education (IIE) released its 70thOpen Doors Report, outlining international student mobility trends in the United States during the 2018/19 academic year. The report indicated that there was a 0.05% increase in the total number of international students in the U.S. in 2018/19, 52% of whom were pursuing degrees or completing optional practical training (OPT) in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM).
To kick off International Education Week this past Monday,
the Institute of International Education (IIE) released its 70th
Open Doors Report outlining international student mobility trends in the
United States during the 2018/19 academic year.
Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie
Royce commenced the release by lauding the nation’s status as the most popular
study destination for international students, attracting more than one million
international students for the fourth year in a row.
The report also indicated that there was a decrease in the
6.6 percent declines in new international student enrollments (NSEs) in 2017/18
to 0.9 percent in 2018/19, evidence that suggests the two-year drop in
international enrollments has stabilized.
Over the past month, some 2,500 students from around the
world commenced their studies at INTO’s 12 university partners in the United
States. Understanding the anxieties that
accompany this journey, faculty and staff across INTO’s U.S. university
partners and their respective INTO centers deploy a combination of pre-arrival
communications, carefully curated orientation sessions, and online applications
to familiarize students with their new university communities. The result: a high-touch orientation
experience that provides students a launchpad for a successful academic career.
the second annual P3 – EDU Conference, hosted at George Mason
University this past May, former GMU President Angel Cabrera posited that “the
private sector holds the key to solving many of the challenges public and
non-profit universities face.” The success of such
he pointed out, depends on private sector parties’ capacity to support their
higher education partners’ strategic goals, prioritize student experience, and
protect an institution’s academic integrity and reputation.
success and campus enrichment lie at the heart of every INTO university partnership. From our first with the University of East
Anglia in the United Kingdom to our most recent with Hofstra University in New
York, each of our partnerships is predicated on supporting the university’s
mission through comprehensive internationalization. Collaborative initiatives led jointly by INTO
Center staff and their university colleagues at GMU, Colorado State University
(CSU), and Drew University exemplify the symbiosis INTO shares with its partners.
Student experience matters.
When international students feel welcome and supported across all
dimensions of their life at university, they contribute positively to their new
communities and graduate at higher rates.
INTO’s 22 university partnerships deliver exceptional
student experiences to students from around the world. In fact, 92% of international students across
INTO’s 12 university partners in the United States indicated that they were
satisfied or very satisfied with their experience in and out of the classroom
in the INTO University Partnerships 2019 Annual Student Survey.
In mid-July, alongside INTO’s academic directors’
conference, the student services teams that drive these incredible results convened
at Saint Louis University for their own student services conference. There, they shared best practices for student
care and some of the dynamic co-curricular initiatives they have launched on
their respective campuses to promote student success in tandem with academic
While it is critical to grow international student enrollments in INTO’s university partnerships, it is equally important to retain those international students in degree programs, support their academic success, and ensure their timely graduation. This is the complex task that academic faculty across INTO’s 12 university partnerships in the United States addressed over three days at the annual INTO academic directors’ conference at Saint Louis University (SLU).