Exploring the relationship between academic performance and the international student experience

Implications for university support offices and academic unit


  • Ravichandran Ammigan University of Delaware
  • Matthew Drexler


Increased global competition to attract and retain international students has amplified the need for institutions of higher education to strategically reinvest resources into supporting the experiences of their students on campus. While coping with a new academic environment can be challenging for all students, few empirical studies have examined the relationship between the academic performance of international students and their level of institutional satisfaction. Using data from the International Student Barometer, this quantitative study investigates the associations between academic performance and satisfaction across four dimensions of the institutional experience (arrival, learning, living, and support services). Analyses revealed that academic performance, measured by Grade Point Average, was positively correlated with support services and the learning environment for a sample of over 900 international students at a mid-sized university in the United States. Key implications and recommendations are discussed for how university administrators could strengthen support services that help improve student success.


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Author Biographies

Ravichandran Ammigan, University of Delaware

RAVICHANDRAN AMMIGAN, PhD, is Associate Deputy Provost for International Programs and Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Delaware. His research focuses on the international student experience, with a particular emphasis on student satisfaction and support services. Email: rammigan@udel.edu

Matthew Drexler

MATTHEW L. DREXLER is Assistant Director for Student Engagement at the Office for International Students and Scholars at the University of Delaware. He is an Ed.D. candidate at the University of Delaware, researching programs and services that support the international student experience. Email: mdrexler@udel.edu