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International Student Satisfaction with Support Services

Irene Irudayam, Johnson & Wales University


Enrollment of international students in colleges and universities in the United States represents an increasingly large portion of the student body (Institute of International Education, 2014). Many institutions turn to the recruitment of foreign students to address enrollment management challenges. In order to recruit and retain these students, institutions have established dedicated services such as specialized orientation, housing, mentorship, and ESL programming (Jackson & Bybell, 2013). International students have needs that are distinct from their domestic counterparts. Furthermore, they are not a homogeneous group, differing not only due to country of origin and culture, but ability and economic circumstance. Across nationalities, international students can be characterized as High flyers, strivers, explorers, and strugglers (Choudaha, Chang, & Schulmann, 2013). The relative strengths and weaknesses of each of these groups must be considered when entertaining models that account for student retention and persistence, such as those advanced by Tinto (1993) or Swail (2004). Although institutions have dedicated resources to these students, there is relatively little understanding of the efficacy of these services. In order to improve deployment of resources aimed at international students, this study will identify: the support services most used by students and those with the greatest discrepancies between need and satisfaction; the relationship between use of and perceived effectiveness of initial, ongoing, financial, and academic support services and student satisfaction; and the degree and manner in which student relationships with both faculty and advisors explain variance in satisfaction with support services. This quantitative cross-sectional study examined a sample of N=222 international students from a medium-sized private university in New England. In order to illuminate the relationship amongst students support services, satisfaction, and relationships with faculty and advisors, descriptive analyses, pairwise comparisons, and confirmatory factor analytic (CFA) models were tested. Ultimately, financial services (CFI, TLI, IFI >0.9), the institution’s cultural companion program (p >.05, CFI, TLI, IFI >0.9), and international student advisors (CFI, TLI, IFI >0.9) had the most discernable effects on student satisfaction. The findings from this study may provide greater guidance to institutions of higher learning when it comes to expending resources on programs and services intended to increase the retention and persistence of international students.

Subject Area

Higher Education Administration|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Irudayam, Irene, "International Student Satisfaction with Support Services" (2016). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI10102637.