4 ways to engage faculty in international SEM

March 17, 2019
  • AACRAO Consulting
  • Enrollment Management
  • International Admissions
  • International Admissions and Credential Evaluation
  • International Education
  • Recruitment and Marketing
people converse and work around a table by Clayton Smith, Associate Professor, University of Windsor; Director, AACRAO SEM Conference; and Senior Consultant, AACRAO Consulting

Colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada are increasingly becoming ethno-culturally and linguistically diverse which is partially due to increasing enrollment of international students.  Currently 1.4 million international students choose to study at U.S. and Canadian postsecondary educational institutions, which increased by 7.1 percent between 2015 and 2016 (Canadian Bureau of International Education, 2016; Institute of International Education, 2016).  

Currently, campus internationalization initiatives focus primarily on external areas including education abroad and student exchange, recruiting international students, and institutional partnerships (Helms, Brajkovic, & Struthers, 2017).  However, this is expected to change as more institutions are developing academic-related internationalization initiatives (e.g., international or global student learning outcomes, related general education requirements, foreign language requirements).  Robin Metros Helms, director of the American Council on Education Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement, suggests that “We need to make sure that faculty are engaged in and central to internationalization efforts”  (Redden, 2017, para 6). 

In the SEM world, we talk a lot about positioning SEM in the academic context (Dolence, 1993; Henderson, 2005; Kalsbeek, 2007; Smith, 2007).  Many have written about the importance of placing Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) in the institutional academic context (Dolence, 1993; Henderson, 2005; Kalsbeek, 2007; Smith, 2OO7).  Dolence (1993) described SEM as a "comprehensive process designed to help an institution achieve and maintain the optimum recruitment, retention, and graduation rates where 'optimum' is defined in the academic context of the institution"(p.9).  Henderson (2005) put it well when he suggested, by placing the focus back on the academic context of the institution and "making structure the servant rather than the master" of enrollment policy and strategy, SEM will touch every aspect of institutional function and culture and set the tone for a comprehensive approach" (pp. 5-6).  Smith (2007) went further by suggesting that "enrollment management is impossible without strong and lasting relationships with faculty members; they are important to all aspects of enrollment management and essential at key points" (p. 1).  This is especially true with regard to international SEM where the connection with faculty is key to our success in not only enrolling students from other countries, but in supporting their academic and non-academic success.  For the most part, we have been silent about the role of faculty in both the internationalization of higher education and international SEM.

In this article, I offer a few ways in which the enrollment management community might engage faculty in enhancing international SEM on our campuses.

Academic Program Development
While it is true that there is room on many of our campuses for international students to fit into existing academic programs, another approach is to create or modify academic programs to better meet the needs of international students.  Some campuses have created new programs to achieve this purpose.  For instance, at the University of Windsor, we have created new programs, such as master’s degrees in management, engineering, and medical biotechnology to support the learning of international students.  We have also modified another program, the master’s degree in education, to enroll an international cohort.  Faculty with an interest in enrolling students from abroad are often interested in participating in such initiatives.

Promising Practices for Teaching International Students
While few instructors have received formal training for intercultural learning or inclusive education (Paige, & Goode, 2009), there are many promising teaching practices that faculty can add to their teaching repertoire, which will improve their teaching of international students and are believed to result in high levels of student learning.  These practices range from teaching about academic integrity and using culturally-responsive teaching methods, and differentiated instruction to student-centered teaching, clarifying expectations, and enhancing verbal and visual communications.  In a study soon to be published, one research team has found strong positive correlations between student satisfaction and student perceptions of learning for many of these promising teaching practices.  Teaching that focuses on the particular educational needs international students have are likely to enhance student success and retention.

Student Development & Support
Several academic and non-academic factors have been discovered as influencing the educational success of international students (Smith, 2016).  Academic challenges include language challenges, exclusion from group discussions, culturally related learning differences, academic support issues, and adjustment to a new educational system.  International students also face a wide array of non-academic challenges, including cultural adjustment, social issues, and finances.  Many international students require support to be successful.  Student services are designed to help students transition to, and be successful in, the North American academic culture.  Faculty who are knowledgeable about these services and encourage their use will see much student success, both academic and non-academic, among the international students attending their classes. 

Student Recruitment
Faculty are often very interested in international student recruitment.  This is particularly true at the graduate level where international students are increasingly filling out much of our graduate enrollment base.  In my institution, for instance, faculty have long travelled abroad to recruit new international students.  Faculty members in business and engineering travel to India and China where they interview students and often provide them with conditional offers of admission.  Students who benefit from this type of recruitment have already begun their transition to education abroad by developing a beginning relationship with a faculty member in their academic department, which can go a long way to enhancing student success for these students.

A frequently cited African proverb says, “It takes an entire village to raise a child.”  This is especially true with regard to our visiting students from abroad.  By supporting faculty and connecting them to our internationalization and SEM plans, we can go a long way to enhancing international student success on our campuses.  Along the way, we will be creating a better world!

Do you have any questions for the author or about international Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM)?  If so, please contact AACRAO Consulting

Canadian Bureau of International Education (2016).  A world of learning: Canada’s performance and potential in International education.  Ottawa: CBIE.
Dolence, M. G. (1993).  Strategic enrollment management: A primer for campus administrators.  Washington, DC: American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.
Helms, R. M., Brajkovic, L., & Struthers, S. (2017).  Mapping internationalization on U.S. campuses: 2017 edition.  Washington, DC: American Council on Education.
Henderson, S. E. (2005).  Refocusing enrollment management: Losing structure and finding the academic context.  College and University, 80(3), 308.
Institute of International Education (2016).  Open doors 2016.  New York, NY: IIE.
Kalsbeek, D. H. (2007).  Reflections on strategic enrollment management structures and strategies (part three).  College and University, 82(3), 3012.
Paige, R. M., & Goode, M. L. (2009).  Intercultural competence in international education administration-cultural mentoring: International education professionals and the development of intercultural competence.  In D. K. Deardorff (Ed.), The SAGE Handbook of Intercultural Competence (pp. 333-349).  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Redden, E. (2017, June 14).  The state of campus internationalization.  Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/06/14/survey-more-1100-us-colleges-looks-state-internationalization-efforts/
Smith, C. (2007).  Finding the academic context: The SEM role for faculty.  Washington, DC: AACRAO Consulting.
Smith, C. (2016).   Promoting international student success.  In The AACRAO international guide: A resource for international education professionals (pp. 103-116).  Washington, DC: American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.


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