If you are reading this article, then you probably want to introduce a positive change into your international student mix. Maybe you want to increase internationalisation, or inspire greater openness to diversity, or even implement some new strategies for inclusion?
No matter what your plan is, it will always involve change.
And change often bring out anxiety together with unwillingness to participate.
How to make sure that you have done everything in your power to facilitate change, so that both your current and prospective international students are happy?
Keep reading to find out!
Include your current students and faculty from day 0
Note here that we’re not talking day 1. Right after you decide that you want to make any type of change, open up a discussion within your community. Seek actively for their suggestions, ideas and worries. It may turn out that many people on your campus have already thought about the same changes one way or another, and have some valuable advice to share. All you need to to is provide them with a structure and a format to give feedback and thus participate actively in these changes.
Ask for help and expertise. Feeling ownership of a project builds anticipation, not anxiety.
Communicate change often and on different platforms
Not everyone reads your university news on Facebook, subscribes to your newsletter or looks at your website. Neither does anyone check their university email every single day. Students fall sick and skip classes.
Flow of information can be disrupted and some messages can get lost. Whatever can be understood with interpretation, is often also misunderstood due to a language difference. Students learn about news from their roommates; roommates hear them from their lab partners; the lab partner got it from that dude in the cafeteria, and so on… This kind of broken telephone is a sure recipe for misunderstandings, alterations and judging.
In order to make sure that every student is reached, use a variety of tools and communicate changes continuously. It’s not enough to say it just once – talk openly and talk often.
Ensure continuity of all current initiatives
Changes are scary for so many people mainly because of loss aversion. In behavioural psychology, this term describes a situation when the feeling of losing something is stronger than the perspective to gain something pleasurable in return. This is the main reason why in so many communities around the world change is welcomed with suspicion. Often, people are not sure if the change is worth the risk of losing the stability of the well-known status quo.
You, as a mediator of change, have to ensure that changes are adding value to the current activities and initiatives, and not robbing the community of its legacy. Address this issue and ask the community for their suggestions on how changes can be implemented while keeping the environment welcoming for all.
What is your way of implement changes on campus?
Do you have a suggestion for methods that work best for you?
How do you engage your international students community?
Give your advice in the comments: