Making the Most of Your International Student Barometer Data: A Guide to Good Practice (the Guide) is an initiative of UA, Australian Education International and i-graduate. The Guide is intended to assist university staff involved with international students to interpret and make good use of the results of their annual ISB results.

The Guide offers practical advice, particularly for those who deal directly with international students, on how they can make changes and improvements that will increase satisfaction with the many aspects of international student experiences in specific universities.

The Guide focuses on the four ISB areas most directly related to the on-campus student experience: Arrival, Learning, Living and Support. The presentation of a variety of good practice case studies shows how different universities have, over a period of several years of using their ISB results, improved student satisfaction levels in one or more of the four areas. These case studies are interspersed with discussion of the significance and challenges of different aspects of provision of services with reference to national and international ISB results.

In the Arrival section there are case studies on strategies for ensuring a positive experience as well as studies of Arrival experiences such as airport pickup, helping new students make friends, and providing internet access. The Learning section includes case studies covering marking, assessment and feedback; supporting research students; English language strategy; integrating technology in teaching and learning; and improving employability. The Living section includes case studies on pastoral care, on-campus living, and transport and safety. The fourth ISB area highlighted is Support. This section includes good practice case studies covering building relationships with students, health services and career development services.

The Guide also includes case studies on how to use ISB data to make improvements. These studies illustrate how important it is to be strategic when handling institutional ISB results and cover areas such as gaining support from colleagues for taking action, the use of key performance indicators (KPIs) as motivators, packaging results for different audiences, ensuring good response rates, and strategies for benchmarking internally and externally.

Another section of the Guide provides advice from the literature about how to ensure success in bringing changes to an institution. This section stresses the need to link into existing organisational processes, to work to a well-structured action plan and to be prepared for the improvement process to be an ongoing and sometimes bumpy ride.

The final section draws together some common threads in the case studies to demonstrate a range of strategies for success and improving student satisfaction. The lessons from these case studies fall into several categories:

The engagement theme came through strongly. Mobilising key players at all levels of the university and the use of KPIs based on ISB results influenced improvements. It was also clear that any processes or projects designed to achieve improvements were most effective when integrated with existing university planning, review or quality assurance cycles, thus ensuring the ongoing monitoring of actions.

The case studies also showed the impact of the way ISB results were handled within universities. Involving a range of university staff in annual i-graduate presentations, and timing the consideration of results to dovetail with annual planning and budgetary cycles were effective strategies. The institutional research office, by whatever name, provided essential support by re-packaging ISB data for different groups, such as faculties or campuses that were then able to target action for their unique circumstances.

Successful implementation of improvements in the universities contributing case studies relied on strategies such as the use of teams working across the institution and recognising that resources are needed to drive improvement projects. It is important to recognise and allow for different levels of enthusiasm for change. Strategies need to be molded to work around obstacles as projects proceed. Careful targeting of areas for action, rather than trying to make general improvements, was a fruitful strategy for a number of universities.

Finally, the role of benchmarking for achieving improvements in the international student experience came through in the case studies. Universities that share ISB data and experiences with other universities report success in lifting performance. Internal benchmarking, for example, between faculties and different campuses, also has an impact.

A set of appendices is at the end of the Guide. The appendices include a summary of the national 2012 ISB survey results, the methodology for identifying universities to be approached for case studies, and a list of the universities that agreed to the inclusion of case study material.

To view the guide. click on the link below.

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