Trends, insights and research to inform growth and innovation strategies in international higher education.

February 25, 2017

International graduate student career success: Institutional capacity and readiness

Growing or sustaining international student enrollment requires enhancing the student experience and supporting their success, according to the recent article titled "12 Strategies for Building a Capacity for International Graduate Student Career Success." The article co-authored by Rahul Choudaha and Di Hu was published in the Spring 2017 issue of NAGAP Perspectives. With more than 2,000 members, NAGAP, The Association for Graduate Enrollment Management exclusively focuses on professionals working in the graduate enrollment management environment.

Given below is the excerpt of the article. Click here to access the full article.

International graduate students’ decision to study abroad is influenced by an interplay of financial investment and potential career opportunities. This is evident from the importance of funding opportunities like scholarships and assistantships in students’ search criteria. Likewise, it is well established that the prospects of finding job and internships are very critical in student’s decision-making process.

Many of them come with the expectation to receive more support in finding career opportunities. They assume that their high investment in education and the institutional reputation should entitle them to an experiential opportunity. However, many students lack the mindset and skillset to navigate a culturally different, more competitive job and internship market.

Statistics on Business, STEM, Engineering, Computer Science enrollment of international students


In the times of fiscal challenges faced by many universities, it is infeasible to offer more funding to international students. Likewise, rankings are a long-term process and are beyond the control of GEM professionals. In addition to funding and ranking constraints, many graduate schools are in geographic areas that are often overlooked by international students.

Growing or sustaining international student enrollment requires enhancing the student experience and supporting their success. Many of them come with the expectation to receive more support in finding career opportunities. They assume that their high investment in education and the institutional reputation should entitle them to an experiential opportunity. However, many students lack the mindset and skillset to navigate a culturally different, more competitive job and internship market.

The decentralized structure of graduate schools and career services can make it even more complex to bring synergy and efficiency in the programming and resources for supporting international students. It is very common on the campuses that the International Students and Scholars Services Office (ISSS) primarily focuses on immigration compliance and not on career success. In sum, the decentralized structures, limited resources, and diversity of students in terms of preparation, culture, and motivations makes it an imperative for graduate schools to think strategically and proactively in supporting international graduate student success.

As a concept, capacity building is a process of leveraging individual and institutional abilities and resources to achieve common goals (UNESCO, 2011). It requires a continuous focus on collaboration, learning, and adaptation to move towards sustainable results.

NAGAP, The Association for Graduate Enrollment Management, has been advocating to connect recruitment and admissions with the remainder of the student experience. NAGAP defines Graduate Enrollment Management, “GEM” as “a systematic approach to managing the graduate student lifecycle from initial awareness to alumna/alumnus by integrating the core functions associated with the enrollment and support of a graduate student.” This framework must be inclusive in its approach and practices in building a capacity to shape positive international graduate student experience.

A model framework to support international student job internship success training resources


As international student enrollment becomes more integral to sustainability and growth of American graduate schools, more investments, efforts and strategies must be allocated to support international student success throughout their education lifecycle. It is critical that GEM professionals take the lead in strengthening collaboration across decentralized silos of graduate schools and supporting the career needs and expectations of international students as it directly correlates with the recruitment and admissions outcomes.


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