Recap of workshop on supporting international students and scholars

By Simeng (Karen) Li, International Peer
Thursday, September 21, 2017 10:13 AM

This article recaps the “Supporting International Students & Scholars” workshop hosted by UCSB's Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS). The event was held on Wednesday, September 13, 2017.

Key things to know about international education trends impacting UCSB

1. There are 4,239 international students attending UCSB in Fall 2017, representing 15% of the UCSB student population. Students are from 92 countries; top 5 countries represented at graduate-level programs are China, India, South Korea, Iran, and Turkey.

2. There are 896 international scholars hosted at UCSB in 2017. 85% of the scholars work in STEM fields; 84% of the scholars are focused on research in comparison to teaching.

3. Maintaining good mental health, cross-cultural communication, adapting to shift in learning styles that impact understanding, and navigating unknown university systems are the anticipated student challenges of this year.

4. Examples of UCSB initiatives to address these challenges are:
    (a) Collaboration between Student Affairs and Academic Affairs to provide campus-wide services and training
    (b) Cultural programming engaging both domestic and international students to create opportunities for cross-cultural communication
    (c) Information sessions for faculty on best practices for teaching international students 
    (d) Workshops for international students on university-level education system of the U.S.

5.  Some tips offered to address these challenges as a community:
    (a) Connect with a specialist from the Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) team
    (b) Engage in cultural programming and activities
    (c) Encourage respectful dialogue on difficult topics
    (d) Encourage an inclusive environment
    (e) Be open to learning about other cultures
    (f) Connect with the OISS

Key things to know about working with international ​students

1. Language, education, sociocultural adaptation, and discrimination are the major acculturative and adjustment stress factors for international students.

2. Practical implementation:
    (a) Adjust pre-arrival, initial, ongoing, and return-home programs to meet students' needs
    (b) Conduct workshops to improve students' English proficiency, bridge the gaps between international and domestic cultures
    (c) Advertise psychological and mental health services to students; make referrals to academic-educational counseling as necessary
    (d) Promote an open and accepting classroom environment; address language and cultural differences; teach skills associated with academic and work-related activities
    (e) Social support is key. Prepare to meet the students to engage them socially and share cultural norms

Key things to know about the new International Student Support Program (ISSP)

1. ISSP offers 24/7/365 remote counseling and acculturation support to UCSB’s international students via telephone, chat, video, mobile App or web.

2. ISSP provides fully confidential services, and is offered free of cost to UCSB’s international students.

3. Students are able to access self-directed digital content and connect with clinical advisors who speak their language and understand their culture.

4. Students can access ISSP by:
    (a) Downloading the My SSP App (available from the Apple App store/Google Play store)
    (b) Calling 866-743-7732 from within North America (001-416-380-6578 from outside North America)
    (c) Visiting ISSP website