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Strengthening the value chain

By Sandy Woolfrey-Fahey

A recently released report will inform more comprehensive supports for international students at Memorial.

During this past academic year, researchers Dr. David Philpott and Karen Kennedy, on behalf of the Teaching and Learning Framework (TLF), conducted a pan-university study looking at students who are vulnerable based on cultural differences and/or second language challenges. Their report, titled Strengthening the Value Chain: Supporting International Students and Building Intercultural Competence at Memorial University, summarizing research findings and was submitted to Dr. Doreen Neville and Albert Johnson, TLF co-leads.

“Our research concluded with 67 recommendations addressing seven priority focus areas,” said Ms. Kennedy. “These include pre-arrival and arrival challenges, accessible and affordable housing, financial vulnerability, English as a second language support, social integration, intercultural competency and organizational structure.”

Memorial has examined internationalization at several points in its history. But there has never been a comprehensive exploration of the needs of these students on Memorial’s campuses nor the readiness to embrace a larger international population. Memorial’s international student enrolment is growing steadily. In 2013-14, approximately 1,800 students or 10 per cent of the total student population and 25 per cent of graduate students came from international locations.

This study intersects the three university frameworks — Teaching and Learning, Research Strategy and Public Engagement—and is presented at a critical time in terms of planning and visioning at Memorial.

“The report stands to inform Enrolment Plan 2020, the Strategic Research Intensity Plan and, arguably of the most intrinsic value, the Internationalization Plan,” said Dr. Philpott. “As an institution, considering the breadth of ongoing planning, we need to adopt an internationally informed lens when viewing these plans in order to be ready to better serve students and truly excel as a distinguished university.”

Implementation of the report’s recommendations is intended to provide more comprehensive support for international students, provide greater intercultural opportunities for domestic students and strengthen Memorial’s intercultural competency. The report will also serve to inform the teaching and learning community as it continues to identify priorities for effective strategies to support an inclusive and responsive campus, as recommended by the Teaching and Learning Framework.

This is the third study arising from the TLF recommendation to support vulnerable learners at Memorial and proceeded by examining data, holding 150 individual consultations with faculty and staff at all three campuses, conducting several focus groups with students and completing an extensive literature review and environmental scan. To read the report, visit www.mun.ca/teachingandlearning/?p=989.