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A Welcome Sight: UC Makes Big Gains on International Student Survey Ranking

High scores for arrival activities and other improvements help UC jump into the top 40 worldwide in a new survey of international students.

Date: 4/23/2014 12:00:00 AM
By: Tom Robinette
Phone: (513) 556-1825
Photos By: Dottie Stover, UC Creative Services

UC ingot   The proverbial welcome mat for international students at the University of Cincinnati is both well-worn and much loved.

As UC's international student enrollment steadily grows, the latest International Student Barometer (ISB) Survey shows UC ranks highly for its arrival activities, such as welcome and orientation efforts.
Student near UC fountain
UC earned high marks for its welcome activities on the latest International Student Barometer Survey.

The high marks for UC's warm welcome and other improved scores led to a significant jump in this year's overall ranking, placing the university 37th worldwide and seventh among U.S. schools. UC ranked 96th overall and eighth in the U.S. in 2012.

“Our jump in overall ISB rankings is reflective of the positive changes we have made for arrival, orientation and welcome,” says Ron Cushing, director of UC International Services. “For example, during fall 2013 we organized and conducted UC’s first New International Student Welcome Weekend that focused on safety and cultural issues.”

The new weekend retreat featured discussions on topics including school spirit; U.S. culture and safety; UC safety services and legal rights; social safety and gender equality; and classroom differences. UC International Services also has made substantial changes to the admission/arrival/orientation process in order to better coordinate communications and programming with the new students.

Before new international students even set foot on campus, UC International Services provides them with an online pre-arrival checklist to help them prepare for life as a Bearcat.


UC was the first American institution to adopt the International Student Barometer in 2005 to measure the international student experience from the time of application and to benchmark the university's performance against peer institutions worldwide. Students from 178 institutions – including 26 from the U.S. – and 13 countries participated in the 2013 survey. A total of 143,952 international students took the survey. The ISB was started by the International Graduate Insight Group, an independent benchmarking and consultancy service for the education sector.

The ISB organizes its data into four categories: Learning, Living, Support and Arrival. UC ranked ninth overall for Arrival, 17th overall for Learning, 45th overall for Support and 90th overall for Living. Each category is further divided into more specific areas of analysis. For example, in the Arrival category, UC ranked in the overall top 10 for "welcome," "bank account services" and "housing conditions." Other overall top 10 rankings by category: Learning, "opportunities to teach" and "virtual learning"; Living, "sport facilities" and "campus buildings"; and Support, "graduate school."   

UC fared even better when compared to other U.S. schools, ranking first in Living for "sport facilities" and among the top three in several other areas: "physical library," "virtual learning," "technology," "research," "campus buildings," "Internet access," "graduate school," "bank account services" and "housing conditions."


More than 750 UC students took the survey, and 85 percent of respondents indicated they would actively encourage students to apply to UC or encourage students to apply if asked. That's up from 82 percent last year and 76 percent in 2008. Cushing noted that UC's website, referrals from friends, alumni, agents and current students were among the key influencing factors in an international student's decision to study at UC.

UC's Academic Master Plan emphasizes the importance of global engagement and diversity and inclusion. International enrollment for fall 2013 was nearly 3,000 graduate and undergraduate students, an increase of more than 300 students from the previous year and up nearly 1,000 from 2009. Students from China and India make up the majority of UC's international population.

Among the international participants in the survey were University of Adelaide (Australia), University College London, University of Edinburgh (Scotland), and the University of Oxford. Other U.S. schools included in the survey were Arizona State University, George Washington University, Northwestern University, University of Illinois, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri and University of Nebraska.