The SERU Consortium policy brief surveyed 22,519 undergraduate students and 7,690 graduate and professional students at five public research universities who completed the survey as of June 11.
“Universities should consider proactively reaching out to international students and assist them”
It reported that both undergraduate and graduate international students indicate that they adapted to remote instruction better than domestic students.
They also reported as more satisfied with how their university responded to the pandemic, the courses that were offered remotely, and with how instructors supported their remote learning.
Overall, 23% of undergraduate students moved to a different country during the pandemic, the brief noted.
“Faculty and staff working with these students should be mindful of this sub-population and offer accommodations or asynchronous alternatives, where possible,” outlined the authors of the brief.
“We must acknowledge that international students are not a homogenous group and, therefore, policies developed to support international students should not be a “one-size-fits-all strategy.”
And while international students indicated that they are generally satisfied with the support they received from their institutions, they raised concerns about living in the US and navigating healthcare and immigration issues during the pandemic.
Some 52% of international undergraduate students and 67% of graduate students said they worry about maintaining good health during their studies.
The second biggest concern for international students was shown to be managing immigration and visa issues (44% of undergraduate students and 55% of graduate students).
Additionally, one-quarter of international undergraduate, graduate, and professional students were concerned with xenophobia, harassment or discrimination.
“More worrisome, 17% of international undergraduate students and 12% of graduate and professional students personally experienced instances of intimidating, hostile, or offensive behaviour based on their national origin,” noted the brief.
“This rate is higher (22-30%) among international students from China, South Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.”
Igor Chirikov, SERU consortium director and senior researcher at the Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley pointed out that international students face more uncertainty than domestic students when it comes to fall enrollment.
“Health, safety and immigration status are their biggest concerns. Universities should consider proactively reaching out to international students and assist them in navigating US medical insurance systems and obtaining healthcare services during the pandemic.
“Universities also need to respond to their visa and travel concerns,” he added.
Other findings included that for international undergraduate students who relocated to a different country during the pandemic, the top three of most important obstacles included inability to attend classes at their scheduled online meeting time – 38% of students reported that obstacle.