INTO North America: Year in review

By JP Deering Senior Corporate Communications Advisor
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As 2019 concludes, those in the international education community in the United States have much to reflect on.  In November, the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) 70th Open Doors Report revealed that it has been a uniquely challenging year for international student enrollment.  Although the nationwide decline in new international student enrollments (NSEs) slowed from -6.6% in 2017/18 to -0.9% in 2018/19, 51% of American higher education institutions reported a decrease in NSEs in 2019.

For INTO’s 12 American university partners, however, there were a great deal of international student enrollment and education milestones in 2019—proof that there is every reason to believe things can only get better in the American international education realm.

Bucking the trend: New heights in international enrollment

INTO North America began the year with the launch of its 12th partnership in the U.S. with Hofstra University.  It was one of the most successful launches in INTO history, with an inaugural cohort of more than 120 students from 13 countries, including Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Azerbaijan, arriving on campus in the fall.

Hofstra was not the only of our university partners to defy reports of stagnant and declining international student enrollments at U.S. higher education institutions.  Drew University, INTO’s sixth American partner, was ranked eighth among the nation’s baccalaureate colleges for international student enrollment by IIE.  Meanwhile, IIE ranked Suffolk University in Boston 13th among master’s colleges and universities for international student enrollment, and the University of South Florida was ranked 34th among doctorate-granting universities.

Breaking records: Accomplishments in student satisfaction and progression

Every year, INTO center staff, in partnership with university faculty, challenge themselves to deliver international students exceptional experiences in and out of the classroom.  INTO’s student services and academic teams met concurrently at Saint Louis University this summer to pool their knowledge on international student support and instruction.  The teams covered a variety of topics, from encoding career preparedness into international students’ experience to innovating digital resources to help faculty across all 12 American partner universities harness the opportunities posed by international students in the classroom.

Thanks to their commitment, INTO North America reported the best student satisfaction numbers in its history at the conclusion of the 2018/19 academic year.  Across all 12 INTO centers, 92% of students indicated they were satisfied with their overall experience, with 95% satisfaction regarding support out of the classroom and 91% satisfaction with learning in the classroom.  INTO North America also broke its previous record for students progressed to university degree programs, with 91% of all students in INTO centers in the U.S. eligible to matriculate to their respective universities in 2018/19.  97% of those students ultimately progressed to degree programs.

Giving gifts: Moments that define what we do

This holiday season has also been a time to reflect on the moments that encapsulate the positive, cultural exchange at the core of what we do. 

At INTO Colorado State University (CSU), the center’s INTO Giving Committee led a fundraiser in November to benefit the Food Bank of Larimer County, the community surrounding CSU.  As Rosa Batko, Student Care Coordinator at INTO CSU, remarked, “the topic of hunger/poverty is a universally relatable and understandable concern.”  The decision to support the Food Bank of Larimer County spurred from previous students’ interest in understanding how Fort Collins provides for those in need.  It also offered students the chance to share their viewpoints on a global phenomenon while coming together to combat that phenomenon in their shared community.  As a center, INTO CSU raised $593.64, which will be matched at a rate of 20% through iGive, INTO Giving’s donation scheme.

A class of academic English students at INTO Suffolk concluded their semester with a similar opportunity for cultural exchange—a Yankee Swap.  None of the students had participated in a Yankee Swap gift exchange before, and each brought his or her own personal touch to the event.  The most popular gift was simple enough—a package of ramen noodle cups—followed closely by an assortment of teas from China was another.  The exchange offered students an opportunity to not only celebrate the submission of their final research paper but share elements of their respective cultures through gift-giving.

“Seeing the ramen noodles be the most coveted gift and exchanging hands over and over again was hilarious,” said Kristine Perlmutter, the instructor who led the course.  “The cheering and laughter was infectious and was a nice way to end the semester!”

Exchanges like these drive INTO’s mission.  They also constitute the greatest gift we receive each year—knowing that students who have put their trust in us are succeeding at a high level and having lifechanging educational experiences.  2019 was a banner year for INTO.  We look forward to forging new partnerships and supporting new students in 2020.

Until next year.

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