Survey Shows the Way for Schools to Keep International Students Happy

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International students are overall very satisfied with their study abroad experiences, according to the I-Graduate Analysis of Student Satisfaction, which finds four factors have the greatest influence on the international students’ satisfaction: local atmosphere, learning quality, attitude of professor, and friendliness of the schools.

The analysis could be very useful for U.S. universities looking to improve on the success of their international programs – and improve future students’ experience by highlighting what factors make international students recommend a university to others.

For four students at The George Washington University (GWU), the report is useful in a different way: they researched the international students’ satisfaction rate of 2014 for their marketing research class.

Byeonggwan Lee, one of members of the research group, said that their research is important because international students can contribute to the diversity and the global reputation of the university. It’s especially important at GWU, which has one of the highest percentages of international students of any school in the U.S., according to U.S. News Education.

“I am sure that there are a lot of international students [here],” said Qing Chen, a student at GWU. “In one of my classes, every one of my classmates is Chinese, except for one classmate from the Middle East.”

According to the report, the quality of professors is the most significant factor affecting students’ education satisfaction. Students also commented on professors’ attitudes with international students, including how willing they are to assist foreign students and how they give international examples rather than using examples relevant only in the U.S.

“When we have a team project for marketing class, many professors usually give examples of certain American domestic companies,” said Lee. “Usually, international students don’t have a background with domestic companies, so we have to research and study more than American students.”

Academics are very important for international students. International students are more likely than domestic students to look for a school with good professional development, according to Study Portals. They may also focus on schools with good language support and subject tutors.

“Academic-level language is hard to speak because it requires us to use unfamiliar words,” Ji-yoon Lee, a student at Georgetown University. “I want to have more opportunities to talk about academic subjects with tutors or classmates.”

Campus life also is a significant factor in international students’ satisfaction with general university life in the U.S. Campus life involves health services, school activities, and whether a school has a campus or city atmosphere. University services are one of the ways schools can create a satisfactory campus life experience. International students may need cheaper and more optional health care services, help completing necessary paperwork like immigration forms, and help adjusting to life in the United States.

Another area international students marked as important? Activities and social clubs at their universities. These, they said, are a big opportunity for international students to spend their free time and to make new and lifelong friends.

“Our international office has a coffee hour, and I can make friends at the meeting, “said Chen. “However, it is still hard to make American friends because most of school social clubs that the school provides are for only international students.”

Ultimately, the survey not only shows the areas important for international students who want to have a complete educational experience, but the areas universities can focus on to meet those needs.

Jeonghyun Kim is a VOA intern for the English web desk. She is from South Korea, and is currently pursuing her Masters in Professional Studies in Journalism at Georgetown University

Jeonghyun Kim

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