New alliance advocates for international students

Organization will research international students' experiences around academics, healthcare, financial and legal issues, social and cultural experiences, and workforce readiness.

A newly formed alliance will advocate for international students who, organizers say, are facing new hurdles during the COVID pandemic and changing political climates.

The Global Alliance of International Student Advancement, or GAISA, aims to work with colleges and universities and other partners to build a new model for international student success, Richard DeCapua, the Alliance’s founding president, said in a statement.

“Opportunities to transform the educational experience for all students, domestic and international, are squandered when institutions accept the full tuition international students provide while paying little attention to integrating them into the broader community and reducing their burdens to success,” DeCapua said.

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U.S. colleges and universities face an 11.2% drop in international student enrollment this year, the Alliance said.

The organization will work with AAC&U, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, to research international students’ experiences around academics, healthcare, financial and legal issues, social and cultural experiences, and workforce readiness.

“The critical need to better support international students has been sharply refocused by the COVID-19 pandemic, elevating the need for institutions to recommit to global learning amidst the stresses of the current socio-political climate,” Lynn Pasquerella, president of AAC&U, said in a statement

Initial research by GAISA as found:

  • 70% of domestic students said their college or university advertised their global and diverse student population during the admissions process
  • 57% of domestic students said interactions with international students have been a valuable part of their collegiate experience
  • 52% of domestic students said they don’t have any international student friends
  • 60% of international students said their institution was providing enough support and resources to enable their success on and off their campus,

When asked about specific things their institution could do to better support them, more than a quarter of international students gave the following responses:

  • 21%: Enhanced resources for mental health, counseling, housing, nutrition and healthcare
  • 21%: Increased focus on campus life integration
  • 19%: Enhanced academic advising and faculty support
  • 8%: Enhanced visa assistance
  • 4%: Open dialogue about social issues
  • 4%: More personalized marketing and communications

More from UB: Attraction and retention of foreign students in a tumultuous U.S. immigration climate

The Alliance’s advisory council includes adninistrators from the MIT Sloan School of Management, The George Washington University, University of California- San Diego, University of Pennsylvania, University of Georgia, and the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland, among other institutions.

“Amid the very real pain of the current pandemic and the discord that surrounds it, GAISA is stepping up as a steadfast ally and advocate for those who are at the heart of the international student experience, to uncover the complex and pressing challenges they face today,” said Huan Roholt, advisor to international students and scholars at the University of Pennsylvania.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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