Working with universities to transform their international capacity and performance
Author: JP Deering
Partner Development and Corporate Communications Coordinator
JP joined INTO’s partner development team two years ago. Before joining INTO, JP taught English and composition to international students at the University of Kentucky. Now, he manages INTO’s corporate blog and social media, writes about international student mobility trends, policy, and the goings-on at INTO’s university partners in the US, and handles outreach to potential partner universities and corporate engagement at major conferences.
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
The dip in international student numbers in the United States captured in the latest data from the Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is unsettling. A 3.1% decline in the number of international students in the US between December 2017 and December 2018 accelerates the 0.5% recorded in the SEVIS data from 2017.
The United States Department of Homeland Security recently released quarterly data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) that revealed a 3.1% drop in the number of foreign students in the US—the difference between 1.21 million in December 2017 to 1.17 million in December 2018—sparking widespread concern throughout the international education field. The data confirms that nine of the 10 countries that send the highest volumes of international students to the US registered fewer numbers of student visa-holders in 2018 than they did in 2017. Additionally, it shows drops in all but six states’ share of the total international student population.
Balance or imbalance—Is there a gender disparity in international education in the United States? It is true that more female students come to the US to study than the combined total of US students who study abroad, but a greater proportion of those who study abroad from the US are female. To mark International Women’s Day and this year’s campaign theme of #BalanceforBetter, INTO’s Dana Bukenova and JP Deering examine some of the gender balances and imbalances that define the international education environment in the US.