In 2012, the University of Delaware began an initiative to increase its international student enrollment and to develop tailored services for its international community. As a result, the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) has experienced tremendous growth, seeing a 200+ percent increase since 2009 in the number of international students attending the 22,000+ student university. Now serving an average of 5,000 international students, scholars, and dependents each year, our department has grown from a team of four to 18 professionals managing immigration services and 100+ dedicated programs.

Given this growth, our paper-based registration and advising system wasn’t efficient or sustainable. We needed a way to meet the challenges of managing international student programs and compliance at scale. We implemented Terra Dotta’s ISSS software to offer students a better registration and advising process and ensure reliable compliance standards. Here are some of the improvements this technology-driven process has allowed us to make.

1. Integrate SEVIS compliance for enhanced visa support
For Delaware and other universities, automating the international registration and advising process, as well as SEVIS compliance, provides faster, more effective U.S. visa support and document services—a critical concern for international students. Offering streamlined SEVIS reporting and immigration alerts and communication allows our international students to focus on their education instead of becoming consumed by their visa status.

How to better support international students

We have established dedicated student and scholar profiles via an online portal where students can review current and past applications and programs. We send email reminders to complete specific tasks, and students and scholars can opt in to receive alert communications through text messaging.

As the transition to American society and culture can be challenging, we now offer more automated pre-arrival support and orientation and targeted communication and alerts—all geared to improving the international student experience. Students and scholars can log on to their individualized online profile and complete several tasks, such as learning modules about U.S. academic culture, immigration requirements, and what to expect upon arrival.

About the Author:

Ravi Ammigan is the executive director, office for international students & scholars, at the University of Delaware.


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