The rise of STEM in the U.S.: International education in the age of artificial intelligence

In Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, Northeastern University president Dr. Joseph E. Aoun observes that the rise of machine learning will have a profound impact on the jobs people do and the planet they inhabit.  A recent piece in the Economist confirmed this hypothesis in the context of the global finance industry, noting: “Funds run by computers that follow rules set by humans account for 35% of America’s stock market, 60% of institutional equity assets and 60% of trading activity.”

As is evident from the Institute of International Education’s 2019 Open Doors Report, international students are alert to the transformations posed by the rise of technology in industry, and they increasingly seek out majors in math and computer science at the expense of traditional business programs.  

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Open Doors Report 2019: Things can only get better

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.

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The road home: Orientation 2019 at INTO’s American partner universities

INTO Hofstra University’s inaugural class of more than 120 students from 13 countries

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.

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Symbiotic partnership: Supporting university mission through comprehensive internationalization

Following 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 partnerships, 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.

Student 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.

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When one size does not fit all: Tailoring student experience at INTO’s student services conference

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 faculty.

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Partnering for student success: Teaching and learning innovations at the INTO academic directors’ conference

INTO academic and student services faculty gathered at Saint Louis University.

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).

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Do US Party Politics Matter to International Students?

Recently, some colleagues asked us whether there was any relationship between the political affiliation/control of states in the US and their success in attracting international students.  Armed with Gallup’s state political affiliation analysis, we had a look.

Gallup identifies five categories: Strong Republican, Lean Republican, Competitive, Strong Democratic and Lean Democratic.  Using those definitions we overlaid IPEDS data to identify the number of international students and the extent to which those enrollments have grown or declined between Fall 2015 and Fall 2017.[1]

In the maps below, the size of the bubble indicates the relative size of the international student population in the State and the color is aligned with Gallup’s definition of political affiliation.

So what are the findings?

  1. International students enroll everywhere but of the top ten most popular state destinations, six are either strong or lean Democratic,  three are designated as competitive (Texas, Ohio and Florida) and one, Indiana is designated as Lean Republican. This does not imply any particular political affiliation amongst students.   States with strong Democratic leanings are home to large urban centers with big concentrations of universities, including many of the Nation’s best known and highly ranked.  These large urban centers are also home to multiple language schools, large community colleges and generally offer strong employment opportunities.
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Global agent poll – a crystal ball for international education?

SEVIS, IIE, HESA, the OECD and Open Doors are useful tools for helping us understand the global distribution of students – and for establishing long term trends.  But they are not crystal balls.  INTO’s latest recruitment agent survey which polled more than 1800 counsellors across the world produces revealing insights into their assessment for future student enrollments in key destination countries. The survey, conducted in April 2019,  includes almost 500 responses from China, traditionally a blackspot for global polls of this nature – and making it the most authoritative China agent insight survey ever conducted.

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