International Student Recruitment, Retention, and Post-graduation Success in New England
International postsecondary students are critical to New England’s vitality and the nation’s global relations. Domestically, foreign students contribute to the economy and represent a significant share of jobs added. Internationally, these students help open new chapters in U.S. relations with foreign countries. Yet, New England’s strong international enrollment figures may be in jeopardy. According to an IIE surveyof roughly 700 American postsecondary institutions, the total number of international students studying at U.S. universities—whether from within the U.S. or online from abroad—was down 16% in fall 2020. Enrollments of new international students have decreased by 43% over the previous academic year. In the first webinar of our three-part series, a panel of experts will explore the federal policy landscape as it pertains to international students, as well as strategies for boosting New England’s international student recruitment and enrollment in a post-COVID world.
The various non-traditional postsecondary student populations experience unique challenges with respect to academic andsocial integrationon-campus—including international students studying at American institutions who frequently encounter a mismatch between pre-arrival expectations and the realities of college life on-campus. Researchshowsthat, if left unaddressed, this mismatch could negatively affect international student retention and potentially damage future recruitment efforts. Additionally, studies alsosuggestthat, because postsecondary institutions are critical to international students’ acculturation and integration, they need to establish positive environments on-campus that contribute to retention. In the second part of our series, expert panelists will survey effective strategies for addressing international students’ unique needs and mitigating retention challenges.
Higher education institutions have long recognized the significant benefits of having international students on-campus, including that they bring their diverse perspectives into the classroom. International students are also critical to the health of the New England economy—both on campus and in the surrounding community. Foreign students studying at New England colleges and universities contributed $4.3 billion to our regional economy and supported thousands of jobs in the 2018-2019 academic year alone. While New England’s colleges and universities work hard to recruit and retain international students, the region needs to strengthen its investment in these students post-graduation to help them join our local workforce. Talent is the fuel that powers New England's innovation-based economic future, and the world is in a race to recruit this talent. International students who come to the region to attend one of our higher education institutions can be one source of that talent, but only with significant visa reform. In the final webinar of our series, a panel of experts will explore ways in which our region’s higher education leaders can effectively advocate for policies that not only encourage international students to attend New England’s postsecondary institutions, but also support their entry into the region’s workforce post-graduation.