As a professor of tourism and a huge advocate for multicultural programming on campuses, I was always extremely excited about potential international collaborations. Often the strategies for developing these types of relationships will vary depending on the intent, size and leadership of a campus or school. Below are a few strategies I would encourage both leaders and educators to consider before developing such partnerships.
Avoid quick fix recruiting tactics
Throughout my years as an educator, I witnessed several new administrators come to campus with high hopes of globalising the campus. They often came with their own personal agendas and economically based motives for increasing the number of international students on campus. Many schools want to increase international student recruitment as a way to alleviate the pressures of their declining enrollments. The reality is that it costs much more for international students to attend schools here, so more international students offers a quick fix. While this is likely a natural reaction to low enrollments, administrators should first ensure that the school is ready to handle an increase of international students. This also involves educating staff across all departments about the specialised needs of international students. While recruiting is important, your ultimate goal should be retention and continued success in the long term. Work with your current international students to assess and develop a marketing strategy. Work closely with faculty to determine the potential needs and challenges of increased diversity on campus.
Prepare students to succeed on your campus
If your goal is to increase the number of students on campus, prepare the students to succeed. International students need to be culturally prepared in order to succeed. Lack of cultural preparedness can be frustrating for them and their fellow students. Find out what services your students need and develop workshops and activities that guide them all the way from admissions to graduation.
Invest in your faculty and students as ambassadors
Encourage your faculty to conduct research, attend conferences and conduct courses abroad. The best relationships and partnerships often develop in these environments. I worked on several international partnerships, as a result of serving on international conference committees. The best ambassadors are often your own students. If your students are happy with their programs they are your best marketing tools. The relationships they can form while abroad will be much more valuable than pamphlets and websites.
Develop a smooth transition
Some of the best programs and international collaborations employ creative ways for students to take coursework and transfer credits seamlessly from one campus to another. One of the most aggravating processes for students is transferring their credits across institutions. Students are often required to spend a considerable amount of money during this out and may choose to go somewhere else if your program does not help them.
Don’t force relationships
Nothing is more frustrating than administrators who agree to an international partnership without assessing the potential opportunities for collaboration with their faculty during the process. I was sent on a trip abroad to develop partnerships with a school and found it pretty frustrating when I realised that many of the faculty had no interest in collaborating. The best connections I made were with those who had shared research and teaching interests.
By Dr Jan L. Jones
Dr. Jones (Ph.D.) has 10 years of full time teaching and advising experience in leisure, sustainable tourism and global education. Her research has taken her to Cuba, Portugal, Germany, Ireland, Jordan, Jamaica, Cyprus, and Crete.