Student support platform Interstride partnered with NAGAP to expand research previously published last fall on utilising technology to address gaps in international admissions.
Key findings from the report were debuted at the recent NAGAP GEM Summit in NYC last month.
“By identifying alignments and misalignments between graduate enrolment management professionals and international students, possibilities emerge on how to better support international students,” Interstride’s Judy Chen, who specialises in strategic partnerships, told The PIE.
“With international student enrolment rebounding to pre-pandemic levels, GEM professionals must understand how to better attract and engage international applicants.”
Chen led a breakout session at the GEM Summit with Julie Deland, director of administration in health policy and management at Harvard University.
They reviewed the survey process and identified the top three challenges of the 345 international graduate students from 56 countries who completed the survey. The central concerns were finances, visas, and finding the best fit institution.
Deland challenged delegates to ask themselves, “To what extent is a socio-economically diverse international student population important to your school? Because certainly there are many students who are able to pay for degrees and many other students who are not.”
Of the 84 GEM professionals who took the survey, nearly half overestimated the challenge of the application process (48% of professionals versus 27% of students). And they underestimated the challenge of choosing the best fit institution and program (13% of professionals versus 43% of students).
Results also indicated that while 43% of students found the selection process arduous, having better information on certain topics, such as scholarships and finances, may have an influence on students’ HEI selection.
Deland underscored the importance of advising students to prepare an application for financial aid while they are preparing their application for admissions. “For as much as we try to encourage students to think about funding, many had a hard time internalising the process and then [completing] it.”
Regarding institutional selection, Chen shared with the PIE, “Notably, the report found that international graduate respondents named better information on career outcomes as a key factor that would have influenced their choice of institutions.
“This highlights opportunities for cross-departmental collaboration to drive international student enrolment,” she continued.
In addition, other recommendations in the publication included making international students’ admissions experiences a strategic priority, suggesting delegating staff to be responsible for the entire spectrum of the student journey.
“We can help make the process more clear”
“This means painting a picture of their international education journey from before they apply, to their educational experience, to career outcomes and life after the program,” Interstride said.
Findings indicated that international graduate students and GEM professionals shared some commonalities in their perspectives about the student admissions journey. However, there were certain aspects of the journey in which their perspectives significantly vary.
“The topics on which students’ and professionals’ perspectives were misaligned showcase an opportunity for universities and professionals to reflect on their strategy and action plans, and consider refining them to align better with what we now know is important to international students in their admissions experience,” according to the company.
“We can help make the process more clear,” said Deland. “We know it’s high stress and anxiety producing, and we know how important this is. It’s a complicated process and we can help students get through. That is something within our control.”
She suggested coordinating better with colleagues, speaking to students about career outcomes, and recognising that no one person has all the information about every service or opportunity. Therefore, “it will take a coordinated and collaborative approach,” she concluded.