International students within the United States of America have stated they have found difficulty in adjusting to university life overseas.
According to a survey of 1,921 overseas students, 38% found living away from home far more challenging than they had expected and 41% said they found it hard to form relationships with domestic students.
Over half of the students within the survey state that they are not involved in any activities or social events at their university.
29% of international students at US universities believe they do not have a strong social network of friends within the university.
Despite low levels of student satisfaction socially, 89% responded to being satisfied with the teaching quality and the course content.
Ties between China and the US have plummeted due to their trade conflict and many believe this has put a strain on the relationship between Chinese and American students.
According to Reuters, China warned students and academics about the risks involved in studying in the US, pointing to potential discrimination amid a bitter trade war and other tensions between the two countries.
It is crucial for institutions to understand how they can encourage and facilitate relationships between students and break down pockets of isolation
– Makala Skinner
However, Ministry spokeswoman Xu Mei stated that despite the trade tensions, the “general situation” of Chinese students studying in the US remained stable. The US institutes of higher education stated they were doing all they could to welcome Chinese students and cooperation with China.
Although the World Services’ survey showed 91% of students were satisfied with their study experience in the US, 31% still said they had faced discrimination on the basis of their nationality.
“Studying internationally is about much more than bringing home a coveted degree—it is also about embracing a new culture and forging lifelong relationships,” stated WES research associate Makala Skinner, one of the report’s co-authors.
“Given the overwhelming importance of peer relationships to the international student experience on US campuses, it is crucial for institutions to understand how they can encourage and facilitate relationships between students and break down pockets of isolation,” added Ms Skinner.
Global conflicts involving the US influences “which international students are more likely to face discrimination”, according to the study. With countries in the Middle East as an example, tension has also surfaced within relationships on campus regarding students of a Middle Eastern or Asian background.
Despite this, the decline in enrollment is slowing with a 0.9% decline last year, compared to a 6.6% decline the previous year, according to the 2019 Fall Snapshot Survey from over 2,800 institutions.
58% of universities said they were continuing to prioritise international recruitment efforts in China, but this may not be enough, with many international students considering alternative places to spend their years abroad.