Project #5: Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) Survey – 2014 Comparisons Between International Students & Domestic Students

Compiled by Xi Yu & Beth Isensee
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Key Findings

A. International students expressed lower rates of satisfaction with the overall academic experience provided by the University of Minnesota along with more concern about the tolerance of diversity on campus

Compared to domestic students, fewer international students expressed satisfaction with:

  • Their overall academic experience
  • The availability of their desired classes and academic majors
  • The treatment and responsiveness of faculty to their concerns and needs
  • The academic advising services they receive from their college, departments, and peer advisers.
  • The availability of academic resources including library staff and research materials, educational enrichment programs, and research opportunities
  • Their overall sense of belonging
  • Their personal involvement in academic settings
  • The diversity of the University’s climate and the tolerance for differing religious or political beliefs.

B. While international students perceived themselves as having lower skills than when they started school, many believed they improved while attending the University.

As part of the survey, students were asked to do a self-assessment of their skills when they started at the University. Overall, international students reported lower skills in:

  • Critical thinking and communication skills
  • Cultural appreciation
  • Research skills

However, international students reported more improvements in the areas above while they were at the University of Minnesota, compared to domestic students.

C. International students also scored higher than domestic students in the areas of:

  • Academic initiative
  • Research activity
  • Academic disengagement
  • Poor academic habits

What Findings Suggest For Our Campus:

  1. This is the first time there has been a notably lower satisfaction rate between international and domestic students in the area of the appreciation for diversity on campus. With only 52.3% and 57.2% of international students saying they feel respected regardless of their political beliefs and religious beliefs (respectively), there should be a conversation regarding what events occurred on campus that may have led to this change and what the University can do to increase the appreciation for the diversity international students bring to the University campus.
  2. Faculty and staff need to understand, recognize, and support international student’s challenges of transition. Entering and adjusting to a new academic climate while learning in a second language takes time.
  3. Please review College/Unit specific data ( to identify barriers and opportunities to great academic success within your College/Unit.