UI stresses int’l communication

BY YUN LIN | JULY 23, 2015 5:00 AM

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When it comes to communicating with students interested in coming here from outside the United States, Iowa ranks among the nation’s best.

In a study, Iowa was ranked No. 5 in the country in terms of communicating and serving prospective international students online in the 2014-15 academic year.

The study, “Through Student Eyes,” was conducted by the global study choice platform StudyPortals and the British Council. Their research gathered data from the top 500 universities in the United States and Canada and also reached out to 2015’s top 1,000 universities in the world.

In the previous academic year, the number of international students at the University of Iowa was 4,360, coming from 112 countries. This puts the UI at the top of the list in Iowa, according the study.

Based on the research, Iowa scored 60.70 of 100 points, ranking behind Washington, Michigan, Missouri, and Oregon.

“After reading the research article, I think the University of Iowa deserved it,” said Lee Seedorff, the UI senior associate director of International Students & Scholars. “It isn’t hard to do, and at Iowa, it has always been a priority.”

“It’s good news for the university because more international students are going to learn about the school,” UI senior Huimeng Yang said.

With 11,318 international students in the state, Iowa ranked 22nd for such enrollment in the United States in 2014, according to the 2014 Open Doors Report. The report also estimated international students brought in $317 million to Iowa’s economy in one year.

Nina Grether, the head of student marketing at StudyPortals, said it received a lot of feedback from international students saying they could not find the information they were looking for on a university website.

“Here at Iowa, we believe good communication is a priority for prospective or newly admitted international students,” Seedorff said. “If students contact us directly, we have a policy to try to respond within 24 hours whenever possible.”

Once admitted to the UI, international students begin to receive information from International Student & Scholar Services via the iHawk pre-arrival checklist, as well as individual emails to their university email.

“With more than 4.5 million students being globally mobile, how universities choose to communicate information about their programs is significant to serving international students,” Grether said.

Currently, the UI operates several social-media platforms, such as Wechat, Weibo, and Renren, specifically catering to Chinese students.

“From the Wechat, I could get up-to-date news of the University of Iowa, even if I stayed in China during this winter,” UI senior Mengwei Wang.

Seedorff said she believes there is always room to improve things, no matter how good a school is at communication.

“In fact, we have plans to create even more options in iHawk that will send more automated messages to newly admitted students in the future,” she said. “The international students will get more information earlier before they even need to think about asking for it.”

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