The proof is in the partnership: NAFSA, APLU, and INTO analysis finds universities with recruitment/pathway partners are more likely to see international enrollment growth

The release of the Institute of International Education’s annual Open Doors data this week made for sobering reading among the American higher education community.  Before we provide our take on the findings, we want to offer some key context to the declines we saw in 2019/20. 

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Endowments and international enrollments: How much does your university depend on foreign students? Explore our interactive graphic

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The global flows of international students confer enormous benefits on the countries which receive their talent: more diverse campuses, richer learning experiences for domestic students, more impactful research and much more.  In the context of the United States and COVID-19, Stuart Anderson, executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), has reported on how the presence of international students and immigrants is helping the U.S. fight coronavirus.

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Orientation overhaul: INTO virtually welcomes 2020 cohort to US amidst COVID-19

INTO The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s new student cohort participates in the center’s first virtual orientation.

When the COVID-19 crisis pushed US universities to close campuses and move courses online six months ago, one could scarcely imagine that the fall 2020 semester would find new students starting classes from behind their computer screens.

Even so, the student experience teams at INTO’s US centers have quickly adapted to support students through the unimaginable since the start of the pandemic.  Earlier this month, they overhauled orientation to virtually welcome a new cohort of international students to their respective universities.

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INTO UAB team exhibits resilient leadership in COVID-19 pandemic

The INTO UAB team gathers virtually before the start of the fall 2020 semester.

On July 28, INTO The University of Alabama at Birmingham (INTO UAB) Executive Director David Hofmann led one of a series of virtual, university-wide seminars on resilient leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The session centered on cultural intelligence and international student support during the outbreak.

“I wanted colleagues to understand a little more about what’s happening within the INTO UAB center and what international students’ experiences are during COVID-19,” Hofmann said of his talk.

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COVID-19 in Context: Only the Strong Survive?

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Last month, Moody’s released an investor update headlined,   “Universities with strongest brands, significant scale, highest debt levels best positioned for coronavirus challenges.”  While that may be true for the strongest universities, the increased demand for higher education that will inevitably follow the COVID-19 pandemic means that institutional relevance and the agility necessary to respond to shifting market dynamics will be just as important as scale of brand and strength of the balance sheet when it comes to survival.

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What matters most: Togetherness in INTO’s U.K. centres during COVID-19

Although the INTO London World Education Centre building is closed to in-person gatherings, students and staff look forward to the time when they can return.

More than two months ago, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced formal lockdown measures to combat the rise in new COVID-19 cases in the United Kingdom.  For many in the U.K., that announcement signaled the start of physical distancing.  However, Qingying Lin, Chinese-language support officer at INTO Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), recalls that her centre had moved all face-to-face learning and extracurricular support online by March 18—five days before the PM’s announcement.

INTO’s 10 other U.K. centres transitioned to digital provision along similar timelines, which means that they have now passed 10 weeks of distance education and support of their respective international student cohorts.  Perhaps paradoxically, what has struck our student support teams most during quarantine is the togetherness they and their students have maintained across that distance—a testament to their agility and resilience.

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COVID-19 in context: What can we learn from previous shocks to tertiary mobility?

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I was delighted to participate in a webinar hosted by the Center for Studies in Higher Education at University of California, Berkeley on May 7, exploring the extent to which COVID-19 will shape international student mobility.  The full seminar is available on YouTube, but I outline my thoughts on the ways in which the Asian financial crisis of 1997 might provide some insight into how sudden shocks can alter the trajectory of global student mobility below.

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First-wave supporters: INTO China sees international students through COVID-19 crisis

Nankai University is located in Tianjin, China, 140 km outside of Beijing.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak led universities in Europe and North America to implement physical distancing policies, universities in China had to face the emerging realities of what is now a global pandemic.  In partnership with Nankai University, INTO has seen a cohort of 43 international students through a campus lockdown and University-wide transition to online learning since late January.  Now, they are helping students adapt to life under less stringent quarantine measures.

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All hands on deck: Helping international students navigate the COVID-19 crisis

In the wake of COVID-19, universities’ social distancing policies require that international students complete coursework and advising sessions virtually.

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.

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“Hundreds of potential futures” at the INTO London Progression Fair

Students attend the seventh annual INTO London Progression Fair.

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.

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