UMD Provides Positive Experience for International Graduate Students
The University of Maryland provides a positive overall experience for international graduate students, according to a study administered by the Graduate School in Fall 2016. 79% of the respondents felt their overall experience at the University of Maryland has been satisfactory and 84% would recommend UMD to others.
“It is the responsibility of the University of Maryland to ensure that our campus is safe for all students and international students in particular. Understanding who our international students are and what kind of experience they have at the university is the first step,” says Jeffrey Franke, interim dean of the Graduate School. “International students already face adjustment challenges and the current political climate makes addressing these issues imperative. We need to provide an environment that is not just free of discrimination, but is actively welcoming to our diverse international student body.”
The survey featured a variety of questions designed to gauge the overall student experience for international graduate students, as well as the quality of their interactions with the rest of the campus community. Some highlights include:
- Overall, the students reported an inclusive and friendly campus. In interactions with American students, 81% never or rarely felt discrimination and 90% never or rarely had hostile or violent interactions. The international students reported the same about their interactions with other international students.
- 73% were satisfied or very satisfied with their contact with faculty; 77% felt the University respected their beliefs; and 60% felt part of the community.
- A majority of respondents intend to return to their home country after graduation, although 63% were planning to use OPT—the Optional Practical Training provision that allows international students to pursue temporary employment in their field of study—to gain practical work experience before returning home.
The survey, administered in partnership with International Student and Scholar Services and Graduate Student Government, was sent to all 3,570 international graduate students at the University of Maryland with valid and available email addresses. 42% of those students completed the survey. More than half (54%) of the respondents were doctoral students, who make up 38% of the graduate student body overall. Response rate by college ranged from 34% in the Robert H. Smith School of Business to 91% in the Phillip Merrill School of Journalism. However, response rates by country of origin were proportionate to the numbers of students from those countries in the overall graduate student population.
Areas in which the survey respondents indicated dissatisfaction are areas of common concern to all graduate students—cost of living and stipends for graduate assistants and fellows; housing; and building a campus community in which students can build meaningful social and interpersonal networks, as well as fruitful academic and research collaborations. These are all topics that the Graduate School will be exploring more in depth in the coming months.
“We are glad to see that, overall, the international graduate student population is happy about their choice to attend the University of Maryland,” says Franke. “The Graduate School is strongly committed to supporting all of our graduate students and our international students in particular. The diversity of thoughts, perspectives and cultures provides a vibrant intellectual and social environment for our graduate campus community.”