Turning the page on 2020: INTO's year in review

Into Exe Social Distancing 2

To say 2020 turned out to be a more tumultuous year than anyone could have predicted is an understatement. For its many challenges, however, the year offered opportunities to prove ourselves as global citizens with regard for others’ health and wellbeing. On INTO’s part, we have doubled down on our commitment to the safety and success of our students, supporting them every step of their education journeys.

Turning the page on 2020: INTO’s year in review

To say 2020 turned out to be a more tumultuous year than anyone could have predicted is an understatement.  For its many challenges, however, the year offered opportunities to prove ourselves as global citizens with regard for others’ health and wellbeing.  On INTO’s part, we have doubled down on our commitment to the safety and success of our students, supporting them every step of their education journeys.

A year of rapid transition

In February and March, international students and educators entered uncharted territory as the COVID-19 crisis caused campus closures and global travel restrictions.  Whether it was the INTO China team supporting students at Nankai University with grocery deliveries as coronavirus emerged, INTO’s US student experience teams helping students return home safely, or INTO’s UK academic teams transitioning students from on-campus to online learning in one week, experts across our centres came together quickly to see students through unprecedented times.

A year of new partnership

After navigating the initial challenges posed by COVID-19, we were honored to add the University of Arizona (UOfA) to our roster of partners in June.  INTO supports UA’s Global Campus initiative, which offers international students the option to study online from their homes or in person on one of a growing network of UOA micro-campuses around the world or the main campus in Tucson.  One of the world’s top-100 higher education institutions, the University of Arizona’s status as a top-25 producer of Fulbright Scholars and a top-20 public research university in the US speaks to its rich academic and international tradition, and we’re proud to share one of the best educational experiences anywhere with students everywhere.

A year of adaptation

Come autumn, our centres around the world were ready to welcome students back to the classroom—be it virtually or in person.  In the US, the INTO the University of Alabama at Birmingham team exhibited resilient leadership amid the pandemic, sharing lessons learned about international student service previously in the pandemic with faculty and staff across campus.  Other US centres mastered online orientation, finding time to bond with new students from thousands of miles away.

Meanwhile, INTO’s UK centres developed a science that ensured students’ safe arrival and study on campus—whether it meant connecting students with campus services during self-isolation at INTO Queen’s University, Belfast, or disinfecting class buildings and contact-tracing at INTO Newcastle University.  Whether they studied on campus or from their home countries, students demonstrated just how unstoppable they were by starting their study journeys with INTO this year.  And, for the third year in a row, INTO reported a student satisfaction rating of 94%.

A year of analysis

With more attention paid to data than ever before, it’s critical that we use all of the analytical tools at our disposal to prepare for a post-COVID-19 world.  Such was the scope of our report with NAFSA: The Association of International Educators and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), which examined two decades of international enrollment data from across U.S. colleges and universities to determine factors that influenced international growth and decline.  The analysis found that global profile, international student population size, and recruitment and pathway partnerships played significant roles in universities’ international growt.  It also put COVID-19 in the context of previous shocks to tertiary mobility, highlighting challenges and opportunities universities will encounter in years to come.

A year of giving

Throughout the pandemic, the world has watched as frontline healthcare workers and other essential employees have saved lives and kept the world turning.  Simultaneously, we have stood in solidarity with the many who have demanded respect and crucial change in the form of criminal justice reform.  Our colleagues at INTO Giving spent the year supporting efforts on both fronts.  These included $24,000 in emergency grants to the World Health Organization, feeding America, British Red Cross, and Give2Asia and pledges of $25,000 to Color of Change, the NAACP, and Stop Hate UK.  In addition, they continued to support a raft of projects that promote learning and literacy among disadvantaged schoolchildren around the world.

As we turn the page on 2020, we put away disappointments and feel proud of the ways in which we surprised ourselves with our own perseverance.  It is our ongoing belief as international education professionals that the only way through crises is to work together with colleagues and friends across the globe.  Here’s hoping collaboration continues in closer proximity to each other in 2021.

 

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