It has been only a few days after the recent WSJ article “Heavy Recruitment of Chinese Students Sows Discord on U.S. Campus” was published. Over 600 comments flooded in.
It represents a broad range of perspectives, from adverse comments from Chinese students “you bring in more international students just for money, so deal with the consequences. Nobody is paying to be changed;” to encouraging comments by American students “he’s a nice guy, and we get along fine, but there are obvious cultural differences besides the huge hurdle of the language barrier;” to advocators for global talents “there are many very smart international kids too. We find them everywhere – doctors, money managers, consultants, lawyers, engineers, etc. Language and culture are an initial barrier, but people do come around that and have proved to be very successful;” to more concerning thoughts about the future of American higher education, “my point is universities like many American institutions, have lost sight of what they were created to accomplish. (…) The current approach to admitting foreign students just to raise revenue is already backfiring.”
It has been a heated discussion and pulls strong arguments from different angles. We need to take them all into consideration to move closer to a solution.
Here are a few reflections:
- Institutions have benefited from international student enrollment, but it is time to go beyond the recruitment and compliance support.
- To sustain a healthy enrollment growth, institutions must recognize the importance of informed strategies to recruit international students.
- American students also gain valuable intercultural experiences by “interacting with their diverse peers.”
- International students must make informed decisions about study abroad with right expectations and preparedness.
- Faculty members must ask how leverage the diversity of classroom as an opportunity for internationalizing the curriculum and the learning experiences?
- In addition to technical skills and language proficiency, international students must focus on improving soft skills.
Successful acculturation and engagement of international students cannot materialize without investment of time and effort at both the institutional and individual level. Investing in student success not only directly supports the student but also helps in future enrollment.
What do you think we can do as international educators and students to transform these acculturation challenges into opportunities?