Enrollment & Financial Aid |
Article by Chris Page, CSIET
Year after year, independent schools across the country open their doors to welcome international students. Without question, the addition of diverse students from around the world enriches the classroom experience. Moreover, welcoming F-1 students — international students attending a U.S. academic institution full-time on an F-1 visa — can be a sound business decision. But while many independent schools have years of experience enrolling international students, the process is not without challenges.
Historically, schools have relied on a steady stream of F-1 students from around the world — China, in particular — to fill their coveted and profitable international student enrollment slots. In recent years, however, visa delays and safety concerns have contributed to a decrease in F-1 students. Many of the students who would have once come to the U.S. to study are instead pursuing programs in other countries such as England, Australia and Canada. As a result, U.S. secondary schools are hotly competing for international students.
The problem is not just the changing international-student profile, but also the process by which schools bring students here. While non-U.S.-based recruitment agencies serve students and schools by providing enrollment, admissions and placement support, their processes sometimes do not align with those of the U.S. schools to which they are sending students. As a result, international students embarking on studying abroad and their families may have mismatched expectations about what they will experience when they arrive in the U.S.
As a community of educators, removing the barriers and haziness that are increasingly keeping international students away should help all of us. The enrollment process must be clearer for all stakeholders, and students must feel more secure in their pursuit of U.S. education.
The Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) evaluates and certifies long-term international student exchange programs at the secondary level. We recently collaborated with industry leaders to design “Model Standards To Guide F-1 Secondary Student Recruitment Efforts.” Developed for third-party, non-U.S.-based F-1 international student recruitment agencies, these standards help agencies commit to acting with transparency, integrity and accountability. CSIET worked with several associations, including the Association of Independent School Admission Professionals (AISAP), National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), Association of International Educators (NAFSA) and The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), to create these standards to help ensure safety and value for international exchange students, secondary schools and parents.
The Model Standards center on four areas: stewardship, transparency, engagement and partnership. International agencies that demonstrate their commitment to these four pillars have the qualities essential for successful F-1 international student enrollment in U.S. secondary schools.
CSIET is conducting a pilot evaluation of international third-party F-1 agencies using the Model Standards during the 2019-2020 year. The evaluation is a rigorous auditing process, similar to the process international student exchange programs undergo to become CSIET-certified. International agencies must demonstrate compliance in each of the four areas and meet criteria such as conducting defined training processes and disclosing ownership and business practices. Newly certified organizations will appear on an advisory list of approved programs in May 2020 for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Once the evaluation process is finalized, any international agency can apply to become CSIET-certified in accordance with the new Model Standards by committing to the standards and undergoing evaluation. In the meantime, schools can expect their recruitment and admission partner agencies to uphold these standards. If schools actively seek to partner with agencies that live up to the Model Standards, more agencies will be motivated to adopt them, which should ultimately help foster a network of more ethical student-focused agencies to help schools with their international student enrollment.
Partnerships between schools and vetted recruitment agencies can help international students feel supported and safe during the student exchange process. This in turn will help prospective students feel encouraged to travel abroad for secondary school. We also hope the best practices codified in the Model Standards will give U.S. programs a competitive edge in the global international student exchange industry. Expectations among agencies, schools, students and parents will be in greater alignment, leading to better experiences in the exchange process.
#Enrollment #Compliance #International
Global Correction: International Student Enrollment Trends (Nov/Dec 2019)
The Business Case for International Students (Nov 2018)International Students Heading Elsewhere (Jun 2019)
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