Chapter 15: The future of international student affairs and services

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Farah Habli

January 23, 2018

Reflections on Chapter 15: The future of international student affairs and services

From Supporting Students Globally in Higher Education

This blog post is part of an ongoing series responding to chapters within a recent NASPA book about student services in a global context. Please see the brief blog entry for more information or opportunities to blog and get involved.  


By Farah Habli, M.A.Saint Louis University

Moscarito, Osfield, Perozzi, and Shea divided chapter 15 into three parts: The first part introduces the role of International Association of Student Affairs and Services (IASAS), the second part discusses the current and future issues, trends and challenges of the student affairs profession, and the last part sets different approaches for its future. This chapter review elaborates on these points while incorporating the takeaways that I will focus on.

An international association of student affairs professionals emerged after the release of the 2008 edited book Internationalization of Student Affairs and Services: An emerging Global Perspective(p:291). This association is now called the International Association of Student Affairs and Services (IASAS), and its role is to bring professionals from around the globe to discuss and solve important issues in regards to the student affairs profession and  student success at higher education institutions. One of its major goals is to partner with other student service professionals from around the world, and the student global summit can be a platform where student affairs and services professionals meet to collaborate and research about student experiences in higher education.

Additionally, IASAS plans to conduct more ground-breaking research in partnership with scholars from around the world, create a global student affairs and services mentoring program, and participate in many other programs that support the needs of a growing number of student affairs and services professionals. According to Moscarito, Osfield, Perozzi, and Shea, this organization plays a role in achieving the future goals of all student affairs practitioners. It sets strategies to understand how countries other than the USA define what constitutes the student affairs profession, gather feedback about their beliefs and ideas, and acknowledge best practices and strategies.

The second part of the chapter provides a chance to explore the issues, trends and challenges that students are facing at higher education institutions around the globe. The rising cost of higher education institutions and consequential student debt is an issue that still needs exploration. There is an urgent need to examine this problem to support student college completion. Additionally, the increased rise of violence on campuses is an immense challenge. Student affairs practitioners should equip students with crisis management and coping skills to respond to this issue.

Another trend over the next decade is student employability. Higher education institutions should define who is responsible in guiding students toward increased employability. For this purpose, the Global Summit in 2012 gathered practitioners from around the world to begin a dialogue about how student affairs and services could address employability in a cross-border context. The “Memorial Initiatives Career Integrated Learning Project, 2013” (p:298) was developed where faculty and administrators partnered to connect faculty and administrators and enhance a curricular and co-curricular learning in order to equip college students with soft and technological skills. With those skills, college students could have a smooth transition to the workforce.

The last trend discussed in this chapter is student mental health.  It is evident that student success is directly related to his or her mental, physical and health wellbeing. Thus, the role of psychologists, social workers psychiatrists, and mental health nurses should expand on campuses. It is critical for universities to provide a variety of resources to support the wellbeing of its students. This chapter challenged and argued the importance of the student affairs profession in supporting students in different areas, such as career, psychological and financial issues while suggesting different approaches to solve these issues.

The faculty and staff collaboration, globalizing student affairs and services profession, and internationalization of the curriculum approaches are the most important takeaways of this chapter. The first strategy is intentional collaboration on the personal and the institutional level. This collaboration requires understanding who is doing the work of student affairs and services, finding a common purpose, and agreeing on the competencies needed to do that work. Additionally, it involves creating more higher education student affairs graduate programs that allow for a flexible design beginning with an established framework, and then expanding it to include diverse and global perspectives. This future perspective about the student affairs profession is very essential. According to Moscarito, Osfield, Perozzi, and Shea, the model based on the USA and other similar countries with strong student affairs programs can be used to help other countries to understand the importance of student affairs and services profession in their higher education institutions while incorporating the individual country's beliefs and attitudes. For this purpose, the author emphasized  equipping the student affairs professionals with a global perspective. To fulfill this goal, professionals should think about opportunities through the university or government agencies to partner with other global institutions. This partnership enhances the importance of student affairs and services as a profession in various regions of the world while highlighting on the complexity that each country builds or have in regard to this profession. It is essential to incorporate the cultures and values of specific countries for their student affairs and services. Additionally, internationalization of the curriculum is an effective strategy to equip professionals with multicultural awareness.

The takeaways of the approaches as a student affairs professional are interinstitutional awareness and international research. To develop the whole student, all practitioners at universities should meet together and develop the best of students’ outcomes. These practitioners are faculty, student support services, career services, etc. Besides, international research incorporates culturally specific information and builds on work that occurs within various countries around the world (p: 303) and provides a global opportunity to learn from various countries. To support this idea, Moscarito, Osfield, Perozzi, and Shea list many strategies that can be incorporated for global development and progress of the student affairs profession.  All of the strategies may or may not fit a region of the world or work globally, but provide excellent examples of best practices. Some of the strategies highlighted include: connecting with others (whether inside the institution such as “Glocalize” or outside the institution) finding a mentor from another part of the world, collaborating on a research project with someone from another part of the world, and understanding how western practices are limited in their application and scope.

This chapter concludes by highlighting that the student affairs and services profession can be ready for the future by learning from each other in the local, national and global context. As an international student from Lebanon finishing my PhD in higher education administration in an American university, I agree with the importance of this idea and urge NASPA and other higher education institutions and organizations to create a platform for this global interconnectedness. And, I would like to use this blog to invite others, specifically in the Middle East Region, for research opportunities regarding student affairs and services and how to support students while their countries are facing political, social and economic crises.  


Author Biography

Farah is pursuing her PhD degree in the higher education administration program, School of Education, Saint Louis University. Her primary research focuses on understanding the experience of international students at higher education institutions, and moving in, through and out of the university. Currently, Farah is volunteering in the SERVE academy, NASPA IV-W region.

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