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.
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.
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.
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, which outlines international student mobility trends in the United States during the 2018/19 academic year. The report indicates that there was a 0.05% increase in the total number of international students in the U.S. in 2018/19, 52% of which pursued degrees or completed 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.