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International Students Face Challenges on US Campuses


Many international students who come to the United States for higher education face challenges related to mental health, adjustment and other issues.

According to a report by World Education Services (WES) titled “Are U.S. HEIs Meeting the Needs of International Students?”, some 20-40 percent of international students say living away from home, cultural and language barriers as the factors that were more challenging than expected.

The website surveyed 2,000 current students and recent international graduates, as well as online focus groups, to examine their 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.

About 31 percent of those who were surveyed for the report said they had faced discrimination at their institution because of their nationality. Students from East Asia, MENA, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia are most likely to make such statements.

Students also reported schoolwork negatively affecting their mental health. Nearly half of Southeast Asian students endorsed this view, followed by students from MENA and East Asia who also reported high proportions of negative mental health impacts.

When it comes to forming friendships, more than 80 percent of students said it was easy to form close friendships with international students from their home and third countries. They also expressed satisfaction with the diversity of the international student population at their institutions.

An overwhelming majority, or 92 percent, of students said their professors were welcoming to international students on campus and were satisfied with the quality of teaching at their institutions.

“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 enrollment of international students has declined for the fourth consecutive year. The number of students enrolled in undergraduate programs declined by 2.4 percent to 431,930, and the number in graduate programs declined by 1.3 percent to 377,943. Those in non-degree programs declined by 5.0 percent to 62,341.

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