Grant application

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Grant application

  1. 1.  GRANT  APPLICATION   KUTZTOWN  UNIVERSITY     Improving  International  Student  Services     Department  of  Political  Science   in  the  Pennsylvania  State  System  of  Higher  Education   April  6,  2011   Grant  Application           Improving  International  Student  Services  in  the  Pennsylvania  State  System  of  Higher  Education        BY     NARGIZA  JEDWAB   4/6/2011  
  2. 2. Needs  statement  and  related  research    Summary     Research  shows  that  international  students  bring  financial,  cultural  and  intellectual  benefits  to  education  in  the  United  States  (Verbik  &  Lasanowski,  2007).  By  interacting  with  American  students  and  scholars  at  home  and  through  exchange  programs  abroad,  international  students  form  enriching  and  lasting  educational  experiences  and  partnerships.  Studies  suggest  such  relationships  can  boost  America’s  global  competence  and  national  security  (NAFSA1,  2003).  Studies  also  suggest  that  international  students  represent  some  of  America’s  brightest  academic  and  labour  workforce;  without  them  some  universities  would  not  be  able  to  run  certain  academic  programs  (Barber,  E.  &  Morgan,  R.,  1987).  International  students  also  bring  other  economic  and  educational  benefits  to  the  United  States  (NAFSA  Task  Report,  2003).  However,  many  international  students  report  experiencing  hostility  and  discrimination  during  their  time  of  study  in  the  U.S.  They  frequently  share  these  experiences  with  their  peers  in  their  home  country  influencing  the  peers’  decision  to  study  abroad  (Brender,  2004;  Kane  2002,  Lee  &  Rice,  2007,  etc.).  In  addition,  their  experiences  may  be  associated  with  a  lack  of  resources  in  universities,  resulting  in  a  failure  to  meet  students’  needs.  Therefore,  in  order  to  retain  and  attract  international  students,  educational  institutions  should  create  conditions  to  improve  student  satisfaction  (Lee,  2010);  and  state  and  local  governments  should  support  these  efforts  by  passing  laws  that  would  enable  such  developments.      Foreign  policy  benefits                                                                                                                          1  National  Association  of  Foreign  Student  Advisors,  now  called  Association  of  International  Educators  
  3. 3.     The  awareness  of  international  issues  is  integral  to  security  in  the  United  States.  Studies  show  that  forward  thinking  leaders  are  influenced  by  international  educational  exchange.  By  studying  cultures  and  languages  and  by  living  abroad,  people  gain  a  better  understanding  of  differences  and  similarities  of  the  cultures  there  are  around  the  world.  International  education  provides  a  way  to  build  relationships,  foster  goodwill  and  mutual  partnerships  among  countries.  As  a  NAFSA  Task  Force  (2003)  reports:  “We  must  continue  to  nurture  our  greatest  foreign  policy  asset:  the  friendship  of  those  who  know  our  country  because  we  have  welcomed  them  as  students.”  Thus,  by  welcoming  international  students,  the  United  States  instills  an  appreciation  for  its  values,  culture,  political  values  and  institutions.  The  NAFSA  report  further  states:  “The  ties  formed  at  school  between  American  and  future  foreign  leaders  have  facilitated  innumerable  foreign  policy  relationships.  The  millions  of  people  who  have  studied  in  the  United  States  over  the  years  constitute  a  remarkable  reservoir  of  goodwill  for  our  country,  perhaps  our  most  undervalued  foreign  policy  asset”  (NAFSA  Task  Force  Report,  2003,  p.8).  These  relationships  will  also  help  the  United  States  to  resolve  the  global  threat  of  terrorism  by  enabling  access  of  future  foreign  leaders  to  education,  since  lack  of  such  access  “can  nurture  the  isolationism,  fundamentalism  and  bigoted  caricatures  that  drive  anti-­‐Western  terrorism.  After  the  September  11  attacks,  the  more  people  who  can  experience  this  country  first-­‐hand,  breaking  down  the  stereotypes  they  grow  up  with  and  opening  their  minds  to  a  world  beyond  their  borders,  the  better  it  is  for  the  U.S.  security”  (NAFSA  Task  Force  Report,  2003,  p.6)  Economic  benefits     International  students  are  also  contributors  to  the  United  States  economy.  It  is  
  4. 4. estimated  that  international  students  and  their  dependents  spent  on  average  $  13.5  billion  in  2005/06  (Institute  of  International  Education,  2007).  Moreover,  more  than  70  percent  of  undergraduate  international  students  pay  full  tuition;  and  since  they  cannot  receive  financial  aid,  more  domestic  students  can  take  advantage  of  the  available  assistance  (NAFSA,  2003).  In  addition,  as  U.S.  law  permits,  some  students  remain  in  the  country  after  completion  of  their  degrees  and  contribute  to  the  U.S.  economy  and  its  long-­‐term  interests  by  investing  their  resources  (NAFSA,  2003).  Former  Secretary  of  Defense  William  Perry  in  his  address  to  the  1998  USIA-­‐ETS  conference,  noted:  “Attracting  foreign  students  to  study  in  the  U.S.  is  a  win-­‐win  situation:  it’s  a  win  for  our  economy;  it’s  a  win  for  our  foreign  policy;  and  it’s  a  win  for  our  educational  programs”  –  and  all  the  more  so  since  September  11.”    Educational  benefits     International  students  contribute  to  campus  diversity  by  adding  diverse  perspectives  and  broadening  cultural  understanding  in  and  out  of  the  classroom  (Bevis,  2002  &  Harrison,  2002).  In  addition,  science,  technology  and  engineering  departments  need  the  skills  and  knowledge  of  international  students  and  scholars  in  order  to  remain  competitive  in  the  global  market  (Slaughter  &  Rhoades,  2004).  International  graduate  students  make  a  significant  contribution  to  research  and  teaching  as  well  as  the  successful  running  of  certain  academic  programs.  Survey  results  show  that  foreign  students  are  an  asset  in  engineering  education  and  without  them  training  and  research  would  suffer  (Barber  &  Morgan,  1987).      Current  problems     Research  predicts  that  international  student  enrollment  is  going  to  be  affected  by  economic  shifts,  aggressive  recruitment  efforts  by  the  U.S.’  competitors  and  other  factors  
  5. 5. that  reduce  the  U.S.’  competitive  edge.  These  factors  include:  high  costs,  immigration  rules,  a  complex  educational  system  and  integration  of  international  students  into  American  culture.  Furthermore,  cultural  and  language  differences  can  hinder  students  from  adapting  to  campus  life.  Studies  show  that  many  students  encounter  misunderstanding,  lack  social  support,  feel  isolated  and  have  difficulty  in  making  academic  progress  (Bohm  et  al.,  2002;  Fischer,  2009;  Li&Kaye,  1998;  Lloyd,  2003;  Robertson,  2000).  Some  studies  have  criticized  institutions  and  their  role  in  excluding  and  marginalizing  international  students  (Beoku-­‐Betts,  2004;  Fox,  1994;  Lee  &  Rice,  2007).  International  student  service  departments  can  influence  some  of  the  impressions  that  international  students  have  about  education  in  the  U.S.  A  recent  survey,  conducted  in  one  of  the  PASSHE  (Pennsylvania  System  of  Higher  Education)  Universities,  indicated  that  international  student  service  departments  have  a  positive  impact  on  students  if  they  carefully  cater  to  their  needs.  They  should,  however,  do  more  to  ensure  satisfaction  so  as  to  ensure  retention  and  increase  future  enrollment  rates  (Jedwab,  2011).  It  is  important  that  they  provide  the  highest  quality  customer  service  and  have  the  means  to  respond  to  student  needs  in  a  timely  fashion.  Goals  and  objectives       The  goal  of  this  project  is  to  improve  the  international  student  services  within  PASSHE.  The  success  of  recruiting  and  retaining  international  students  is  dependent  on  the  right  conditions  for  international  students  on  U.S.  campuses.  This  project  is  a  continuation  of  an  initial  study  conducted  in  one  of  the  universities  within  PASSHE  in  early  2011.  The  specific  objectives  of  this  study  should  be:   1.  To  improve  international  student  services  in  ways  that  makes  students  feel  welcomed  
  6. 6. and  treated  fairly.  This  will  include  ensuring  international  student  services  are   trained  in  cross-­‐cultural  communication.  In  some  cases,  it  may  be  necessary  to   employ  staff  with  particular  language  abilities  in  order  to  ease  communication   barriers.     2.  To  assist  students  in  organizing  events  in  order  to  encourage  integration  of   international  students  and  international  student  services  staff.  The  events  popular   with  students,  according  to  the  initial  study,  are:  culture  nights,  trips  to  local  sites,   food  nights,  out  of  town  trips,  banquets  and  others.     3. To  provide  opportunities  for  international  students  to  meet  local  families.  Some   students  indicated  their  interest  to  meet  locals,  to  learn  more  about  American   culture  and  to  share  their  own  culture.     4. To  provide  international  students  with  auxiliary  services.  In  the  initial  survey  students   expressed  their  need  for  public  transportation.  Thus,  universities  can  ensure  that   such  transportation  is  available  to  students  to  travel  to  shopping  centres  and  other   places.     5. To  encourage  the  exchange  of  ideas  among  the  PASSHE  universities  concerning  which   projects  have  contributed  most  to  student  satisfaction;   6. To  raise  campus  awareness  about  the  benefits  of  diversity  by  conducting  workshops   and  promoting  further  research.          
  7. 7. METHODOLOGY       The  method  employed  in  the  evaluation  of  international  student  services  will  include  an  anonymous  electronic  survey  and  a  series  of  informal  confidential  interviews.  The  author  of  this  proposal,  who  utilized  www.Surveymonkey.com,  a  trusted  web  source  for  the  development  of  research  tools,  will  develop  the  survey  and  the  interview  questions.  The  PASSHE  administration  is  keen  to  cooperate  in  the  evaluation  of  the  international  student  services  and  pursuant  to  the  survey  results,  make  appropriate  improvements.  Survey     All  PASSHE  universities  are  willing  to  assist  with  collecting  data.  Each  university’s  administrative  office  in  charge  of  international  student  services  will  distribute  the  survey  to  their  international  students  via  email,  explaining  its  purpose  and  benefits.  The  estimated  number  of  students  participating  in  the  survey  is  a  total  of  1,200.  The  survey  will  be  a  combination  of  a  series  of  close-­‐ended  and  open-­‐ended  questions,  which  will  measure  the  following:   1.  What  services  international  student  administrations  lack.     2. Whether  students  are  satisfied  with  the  support  received  at  the  international  student   services.   3. How  helpful  the  information  on  the  International  student  services  webpage  is.   4. What  aspects  of  campus  life  can  help  students  to  feel  integrated.     5. What  events  students  have  enjoyed  attending  and  what  events  should  be  organized.   6.  What  auxiliary  services  international  offices  should  provide.     7. What  other  factors  could  improve  their  experience.    
  8. 8.   The  data  collected  from  the  survey  will  be  analyzed  and  interpreted  using  the  statistical  software  called  Statistical  Package  for  the  Social  Sciences  (SPSS).  The  results  of  the  survey  will  be  put  together  in  a  report  and  distributed  to  the  PASSHE  administration  and  to  state  and  local  legislative  bodies.    Interviews     While  the  survey  is  being  completed,  the  researcher  and  her  assistants  will  conduct  interviews  with  students  who  volunteered  to  participate.  The  participating  universities’  administration  will  recruit  international  students  to  take  part  in  the  interviews.  The  research  team  aims  to  interview  ten  students  from  each  university.  Students  will  be  asked  to  come  forward  by  a  certain  deadline.  If  the  number  of  students  who  volunteer  exceeds  the  needed  limit,  ten  students  will  be  randomly  selected  from  the  group  to  represent  each  university.  The  research  team  will  be  provided  with  student  contact  information  and  arrange  interviews  on  university  campuses.  The  students,  who  participate  in  the  interviews,  will  be  asked  to  sign  a  waiver  to  release  their  contact  details  to  the  research  team.  The  names  of  students  who  participated  in  both  the  survey  and  interviews  will  not  be  disclosed.  The  interviews  will  provide  opportunities  to  capture  important  emotional  responses  to  questions  that  the  survey  cannot  measure.  The  interviews  will  discuss:  specific  positive  and  negative  encounters  at  the  international  student  service  departments;  suggestions  of  what  can  be  improved;  what  events  students  have  enjoyed  and  what  events  should  be  organized;  what  other  services  should  be  organized  for  students;  how  students  get  around  town  and  whether  the  international  student  services  should  have  their  own  transportation  services;  and  others.  
  9. 9.   In  order  to  complete  the  project  within  the  allotted  time,  it  will  be  necessary  to  employ  research  assistants  with  skills  to  analyze  the  statistics  and  those  that  have  good  interviewing  and  writing  skills.  In  addition,  clerical  staff  will  be  needed  to  assist  in  various  administrative  tasks  such  as  making  interview  appointments,  arranging  accommodation  and  others  as  need  arises.  A  report  will  be  compiled  at  the  completion  of  the  interviews  and  distributed  to  the  PASSHE  universities  as  well  as  local  and  state  legislative  bodies.  If  this  project  shows  that  student  satisfaction  is  largely  influenced  by  the  quality  of  international  student  services,  it  follows  that  appropriate  policy  considerations  can  be  made  at  the  state  and  local  levels.                          
  10. 10. PROJECT  SCHEDULE      Survey  design  Survey  sent  Reminders  sent  Survey  results  collected  Survey  results  analyzed  Interviews  conducted  Interviews  analyzed  Reports  produced                  
  11. 11. POLICY  CONSIDERATIONS       The  outcome  of  this  project  should  lead  the  state  and  local  legislature  to  accommodate  the  need  to  sustain  and  improve  international  student  experiences  on  U.S.  campuses.  The  evaluation  is  anticipated  to  show  that  sufficient  resources  are  needed  in  order  to  provide  quality  services.  Specifically,  as  this  research  relates  to  publicly  funded  universities,  state  and  local  governments  will  face  a  challenge  to  provide  funding  in  order  to  achieve  excellence  in  campus  programs  and  exchange  programs  and  to  enjoy  the  other  benefits  associated  with  having  international  students.  There  are  specific  steps  the  authorities  can  take  in  order  to  achieve  these  goals:     (1) Develop  a  strategic  plan  in  consultation  with  the  higher  education  community  and   other  related  constituencies  that  articulates  why  international  students  are   important  to  the  national  interest  (as  described  in  the  Needs  section).   (2) Develop  a  recruitment  strategy  to  bring  students  into  local  universities.   (3) Provide  sufficient  funding  to  enable  universities  to  recruit  highly  qualified  staff  for   international  student  services.  This  follows  that  the  DoE  to  provide  appropriate   funding  for  administrative  staff  and  to  student  integration  activities  and  auxiliary   services.     (4) Provide  opportunities  for  students  to  access  information  about  available  funding.   More  specifically,  make  more  private  loans  available  to  foreign  students,  particularly   loans  that  permit  co-­‐signers  from  abroad.  For  example,  a  good  model  for  this  is  the   Duke  MBA  Opportunity  Loan,  which  allows  students  to  borrow  $30,000  per  year   with  a  2%  interest  rate  (NAFSA,  2003).     (5) Provide  opportunities  for  tuition  exchange  programs  where  students  from  overseas  
  12. 12. exchange  place  with  students  from  the  United  States,  which  has  proved  to  be  a   success  and  is  a  minimal  cost  to  both  institutions  (NAFSA,  2003).     (6) Provide  scholarship  programs  in  exchange  for  public  commitments,  which  could   incorporate  scholarship  programs  that  include  an  out-­‐of-­‐state  remission  in  exchange   for  services  to  the  local  community  and  campus.  These  services  could  include   translation  for  local  business  and  teaching  in  local  schools  about  their  countries  and   cultures.  Such  a  program  has  proven  to  be  valuable  in  Oregon  State  University   (NAFSA,  2003).     (7) Provide  internship  opportunities  for  students  during  their  matriculation  years  and   after  completion  of  their  degree  programs.  This  effort  should  prompt  state  and  local   officials  to  work  with  the  federal  government  officials  to  pass  appropriate  legislation   that  would  remove  excessive  governmentally  imposed  barriers  to  access  and   address  the  issues  of  cost  and  complexity.     (8) Provide  funding  for  cross-­‐cultural  training  workshops  and  awareness  of  its   benefits  on  campuses.     All  these  initiatives  can  be  part  of  a  strategic  marketing  plan.  The  proposed  changes  are  necessary  for  U.S.  education  to  maintain  its  competitive  edge  with  an  overseas  audience.  The  evidence  presented  as  a  result  of  this  research  in  combination  with  the  earlier  research  and  federal  government  proposals  (NAFSA,  2003)  may  be  one  of  the  many  factors  to  influence  Governor  Corbett  to  reconsider  his  controversial  proposal  of  reducing  education  funding.      
  13. 13. Bibliography  Arasaratnam,  L.A.  (2005).  Sensation  seeking  and  international  student  satisfaction  of  experiences  in  the  United  States.  Journal  of  Intercultural  Communication  Research  (34),  3,  184-­‐194.  Barber,  E.  G.  &  Morgan,  R.P.  (1987).  The  Impact  of  Foreign  Graduate  Students  on  Engineering  Education  in  the  United  States  Science,  New  Series,  (236),  4797,  33-­‐37  Brender,  A.  (2004)  ‘In  Japan,  protection  or  prejudice?  Government  slashes  number  of  visas  issued  to  Chinese  students’.  Chronicle  of  Higher  Education  50(38):  A37.  Hunter,  Bill.,  White,  George  P.  &  Godbrey,  Galen  C.  (2006).  What  does  it  mean  to  be  globally  competent?  Journal  of  Studies  in  International  Education  (10),  267-­‐285  Lane,  K.  (2002,  June  6)  So  where  are  you  from?.  Community  College  Week  14:  2.  Lee,  J.  J.  (2010).  International  students’  experiences  and  attitudes  at  a  US  host  institution:  Self-­‐reports  and  future  recommendation,  Journal  of  Research  in  International  Education,  9(1)  66-­‐84  Lee,  J.J.  &  Rice,  C.  (2007).  Welcome  to  America?  International  student  perceptions  of  discrimination.  Higher  Education  (53),  381-­‐  409  NAFSA  (2003).  In  Americas  Interest:  Welcoming  International  Students.  Strategic  Task  Force  Report  on  International  Student  Access.  Verbik,  L.  &  Lasanowski,  V.  (2007)  International  Student  Mobility:  Patterns  and  Trends.  London:  Observatory  of  Borderless  Higher  Education.    

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