International student success: A SEM priority

March 8, 2016
  • AACRAO Connect
  • International Admissions and Credential Evaluation
Photo of a female students holding books and wearing a backpack while walking along a concrete path.


by Clayton Smith, Ed.D., Vice-Provost, Student Affairs and Dean of Students, University of Windsor and Senior Consultant, AACRAO Consulting

Students from abroad are increasingly choosing to study at North American colleges and universities. Currently, 1.2 million international students study at North American postsecondary educational institutions, with 336,000 choosing Canada and 886,052 enrolling in the U.S. (Canadian Bureau of International Education 2014; Institute of International Education 2014). Further, enrollments are growing.  Between 2012/13 and 2013/14, international student enrollments grew by 8.1 percent in the U.S. and by 10.5 percent in Canada.  The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) projects that the number of international students will more than double by 2020 (OECD 2014).

We need to assure that these students are supported to reach their educational objectives while enrolled at our institutions.  This will require us to pay more attention to the international student success factors. 

6 factors that influence international student success

Some of the most discussed factors include: English proficiency, studying in a postsecondary academic program for which they have experience at the high school level, reliable financial support, cultural adjustment, social support, and the availability of a strong support person.

Many best practices are available to guide our efforts including support in the following areas: academic advising, academic integrity, employment, finances, health and wellness, immigration, residence life, social and cultural, and transition support.

An often overlooked best practice is in the area of organization.  Institutions should consider developing strategies of cooperation and coordination among offices accessed by international students (Goff and Snowden 2015; Sandeen 2004; Beane 1985).  They should also consider a more integrated approach to student engagement where international student offices and student life coordinators work collaboratively to create and facilitate more inclusive opportunities for international and domestic students, fostering greater multi-level exchange (Leary 2012).

The time is now

It is time to rethink internationalization while connecting emerging enrollment management structures and processes in the context of a globalized and intercultural student body – all with a focus on international student success. This should lead us toward a better understanding of the most effective overall international strategic enrollment management practices.

The outlook for increasing international student success throughout North America is very high.

For an in-depth discussion about SEM solutions on your campus, explore AACRAO Consulting.

Are you attending AACRAO's Annual Meeting? You can find the AACRAO Consulting Booth in the front of the hall. Stop by and talk to us!




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