NEW YORK, Nov. 20, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- New research from World Education Services (WES) finds that while international students are generally satisfied with the quality of academic programs and support available on U.S. campuses, they also continue to face mental health, adjustment, and other challenges.

The report Are U.S. HEIs Meeting the Needs of International Students? indicates that 79% of international students, an overwhelming majority, feel welcome in the U.S. That percentage is even higher for students from countries in the Middle East and North Africa—86%. More than 9 in 10 international students in the U.S. are satisfied with their higher education experience.

This latest research from WES offers a welcome counterpoint to just-released data from IIE’s 2019 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. According to IIE, the total number of international students in the U.S. rose a marginal .05% from 2017/18 to 2018/19. IIE data also reveal a stark 10.4% decline in new international enrollments since 2015/16.

“We’re very heartened by our findings,” said WES Research Associate Makala Skinner, one of the report’s co-authors. “Studying internationally is about much more than bringing home a coveted degree—it is also about embracing a new culture and forging lifelong relationships. Our research suggests that students are still finding opportunities, even at a time when higher education institutions struggle to maintain international student numbers.”

The WES report is based on data collected in a 2019 survey of almost 2,000 current students and recent graduates, as well as an online focus group. The survey examined international students’ relationships with peers, faculty, and staff; their satisfaction with their U.S. study experience; and their day-to-day challenges acculturating to life on and off campus.

Despite reporting positive experiences overall, respondents also noted a range of challenges that university and college administrators could help to address:

  • Nearly one-third, 31 percent, reported facing discrimination due to their nationality.
  • One-third said the stress of schoolwork negatively affected their mental health.
  • More than a quarter said cultural barriers in the U.S. were more challenging than anticipated.
  • Over a third, 41 percent, found it hard to form relationships with domestic students.

The authors call on U.S. higher education institutions to assess their supports for international students. The report includes concrete recommendations to help higher education institutions ensure that they are providing the services and tools students need to thrive.

Access the full report here.

For more information, contact Ashley Craddock, Director of Strategic Communications, World Education Services T: 512.212.3998 E: acraddock@WES.org  

About WES
WES is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping international students and professionals achieve their educational and professional goals in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1974, WES evaluates and advocates for the recognition of international education qualifications. WES has provided credential evaluations to two million people worldwide. WES evaluations are widely recognized by more than 2,500 educational, business, and governmental institutions throughout the U.S. and Canada.