Reflections on Chapter 9: Supporting Students in the Pursuit of Educational Experiences Abroad

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Peter Maribei

November 27, 2017

From Supporting Students Globally in Higher Education

This blog post is part of an ongoing series responding to chapters within a recent NASPA book about student services in a global context. Please see the brief blog entry for more information or opportunities to blog and get involved


Written by Peter Maribei, PhD - Global Center Coordinator - University of San Diego, USA

In their chapter in Supporting Students in the Pursuit of Educational Experiences Abroad, Dieguez and El Housseini argue for broadening the view of campus internationalization to include supporting international students at domestic institutions where they are often considered outsiders rather than members of the institutional community. Campus internationalization includes preparing domestic students as global citizens through local mentoring programs and education abroad programs. In their effort to internationalize the campus, institutions such as the Florida Institute of Technology and Wake Forest University have even gone as far as articulating student learning outcomes that do not differentiate between international and domestic students (p. 174). The authors draw from their experiences to discuss the different kinds of education abroad experiences, the common challenges students encounter in their pursuit of these experiences, and how student affairs administrators can support student success.

The authors highlight some campus internationalization trends that are important for student affairs and services to understand. Many countries outside of the United States, and even outside the West, have made commitments to increase international activities such as building international partnerships, collaborating on international research, increasing the number of students who go abroad, and improving the services provided to international students. An Institute of International Education (2017) report cites China as one the most popular destinations in 2016 for majority of the 4.1 million globally mobile students in a field previously dominated by United States, United Kingdom, France, and Australia. Other Asian countries aim to attract more inbound students particularly from within the region (ICEF, 2015). Japan, for example, has set a goal of hosting 300,000 students by 2020.  

Another important point discussed by Dieguez and El Housseini is the kinds of international experiences in which globally mobile students are engaged. The authors categorize education abroad experiences into four distinct areas of focus: academic, vocational, co-curricular, and personal (p. 176).   Academically focused experiences typically involve taking courses at a foreign institution towards matriculation in a degree program. Vocational experiences and co-curricular programs may be set up by an academic institution, a third-party provider or by the students themselves. Programs for students at both undergraduate and graduate levels range from as short as a weeklong experience to several years in the case of degree programs.

The chapter highlights a variety of structures adopted by institutions to support educational experiences abroad (p. 179-180). Some institutions have an international office housed in the academic affairs division, while others are housed in the student affairs and services division. Some institutions separate the functions of receiving international students and sending students abroad while others house the two functions under one office. International offices typically provide administrative services such as program selection and application advising, pre-departure orientations, re-entry programs, and, international transcript processing to outgoing students. Incoming students receive services such as immigration advising, cross-cultural programming, and housing and transportation assistance.

Another noteworthy discussion in this chapter pertains to the issues internationally mobile students encounter. Among these issues are finances, administration, immigration, cultural adjustment, personal development, and emergencies (p. 180-181). It is widely acknowledged that students encounter culture shock upon encountering social norms, food, transportation, communication styles, and religions that are different from their own (p. 185-186). The isolation of a new culture, expectations from home, and a full course load sometimes leads to mental illness, a condition for which many international students are reluctant to seek help from campus officials (Turnage, 2017). Despite these challenges, the educational experience present students with opportunities to grow in their self-confidence, their appreciation of other cultures, and their ability to interact with other people who are not like them.

It is important to acknowledge that functions typically identified as “student affairs” or “student services” in North American institutions may go by other names in other parts of the world (Perozzi and Ramos, 2015). All the same, student affairs and services at many colleges and universities compose a diverse set of functional areas including academic advising, enrollment management, chaplaincy/multi-faith services, career services, community service learning, health and counseling services, student housing, disability support services, multicultural student services, student conduct, leadership programs, and recreation and fitness among others (Long, 2012; UNESCO, 2002). Arguably, support for international student success should go beyond what has traditionally been considered the purview of the international students and scholars office. This new way of thinking is probably well articulated by Provost Gould of Fort Hays State University who stated in a report that:

Internationalization of the campus and the curricula should not be an add-on, but rather an integral part of course content and “infused” into disciplinary programming, co-curricular and extracurricular activities, research and service. Equally important, educational strategy only gets executed when the institution “pays attention” and links organizational structure to support of operations. (Internationalization of student affairs, n.d., p.1)

Fort Hays State University, for example, identified several internationalization programs and services that were being applied in their campus as well as several best practices from other institutions (Internationalization of student affairs, n.d.). One of the practices by the residential life/student housing department was working with international students to create translated signs explaining policies and procedures. Another practice the school sought to adopt was an international living learning residential center to bring together international and domestic students in shared international activities and promote global awareness. This process was done for several functional areas of student affairs and services. The university also recognized the need for enhancing the cultural competencies of student affairs and services personnel on their campus.

In summary, the chapter highlights the kinds of issues that students across the world face in the light of growing campus internationalization efforts. While the focus has been on international students at a host campus, the reality is that student mobility has fundamentally changed the face of university and college campuses. Support for student success should be geared not only to inbound students, but for outbound students as well as domestic students at the home institution. To effectively accomplish this, student affairs and services personnel need to become more knowledgeable in the research and best practices of campus internationalization. We also need to be involved in professional development opportunities to enhance our cultural competencies.


Dieguez, T. A. & El Housseini, W. Y. (2016). Supporting students in the pursuit of educational experiences abroad. In K. J. Osfield, B. Perozzi, L. B. Moscaritolo, R. Shea (Eds.), Supporting students globally in higher education: trends and student affairs and services (pp. 173-189). NASPA: Washington, DC.

Institute of International Education (2017). A world on the move: Trends in global student mobility. Retrieved from

Internationalization of student affairs (n.d.). Retrieved from Fort Hays State University website:

International Consultants for Education and Fairs (2015). The state of international student mobility in 2015. Retrieved from

Long, D. (2012). The foundations of student affairs: A guide to the profession. In L. J. Hinchliffe & M. A. Wong (Eds.), Environments for student growth and development: Librarians and student affairs in collaboration (pp. 1-39). Chicago: Association of College & Research Libraries.

Perozzi, B. & Ramos, E. (2015). Student affairs and services in global perspective. In G.S. McClellan & J. Stringer (Eds.), The handbook of student affairs administration (pp. 113-131). Retrieved from

Turnage, C. (2017). In higher ed’s mental-health crisis, an overlooked population: International students. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (2002). The role of student affairs and services in higher education: A practical manual for developing, implementing and assessing student affairs programmes and services. Retrieved from

Author Biography

Peter Maribei is the Global Center Coordinator for School of Leadership and Education Sciences at the University of San Diego. His responsibilities include research and administrative support for international education. He also  provides support for international scholars in residence.

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