Integrating International Graduate Students on Campus: The Perspectives of Student Affairs Professionals
Higher education institutions in the United States (U.S.) recruit international students as part of their internationalization strategies. The overall number of international students enrolled in American universities and colleges between 2017 and 2018 increased by 1.5% compared to the previous year, totaling over 1 million international students (Institute of International Education 2018). Of this total, 382,983 are international graduate students.
International graduate students are good resources for the internationalization and economy of higher education institutions in the U.S. (Urban and Palmer, 2014) and, despite the reduction in the number of visas approved and job prospects, their numbers continue to grow (Almurideef 2016; Killick 2015). These students come from different countries, have different cultural backgrounds and needs, and face different challenges that student affairs professionals at host institutions must address to integrate them into campus (Harper and Hurtado, 2007; Lee and Rice 2007). Moreover, the needs and challenges of international students differ depending on their level of studies, undergraduate vs. graduate (Rai 2002). While student affairs professionals are often the first contacts for all international students, and they play a key role in the integration and development of international graduate students on campus (Brandenburg 2016), most higher education institutions and their student affairs units today are not yet prepared to serve international graduate students (Arokiasamy 2011; Burdzinski 2014; Castellanos et al., 2007; Di Maria 2012; Moswela and Mukhopadhyay 2011; Yakaboski and Perozzi 2018).
The purpose of this study is to understand the perspectives of student affairs professional about their role in integrating international graduate students into campus and the policies, services, programs, and other elements they consider most helpful in integrating these students.
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