INTO OSU partnership a resource for international students

EJ Albaugh

For international students traveling abroad in search of a better education, having a safe and inclusive place to build their future is imperative, and OSU happens to stand out in that regard. With inclusivity being a focus at many Universities across the country in the past few years especially, OSU offers programming, opportunities and resources for all students.

One program in particular that promotes inclusivity for international students is INTO OSU.

With resources and staff devoted to the success of international students and those with cultural and language barriers, INTO OSU is a program that sets OSU apart from other universities.

OSU is one of only eight universities in the U.S., and one of 19 in the entire world to be partnered with INTO University Partnerships Limited (INTO), the Global education partnering organization.

This program attracts over 12,000 international students each and every year from all over the globe, solely for the purpose of giving them a better education in the U.S., U.K. and China.

In 2008, INTO partnered with OSU, and a small startup team combined with the long standing English Language Institute to create INTO OSU

“I think what has happened at OSU has happened at a lot of places around the country,” said Student Experience Director Julianna Betjemann. “The difference is, our partnership has created so much more support for the students.”

From their beginnings in 2008, the organization has created more than 50 jobs, and has now grown from 200 to 1200 active students and immersed into both the culture college life in Corvallis.

Once admitted, INTO OSU allows international students to begin a course pathway. A set list of classes that promote English language learning, while also developing basic skills and giving extra cultural support for their major transition, keeping them on track to becoming degree-seeking students.

These pathways can lead to many degrees, and have specific requirements for moving from the pathway to ensure that students’ English skills, as well as others, are up to par and evolved to the point of success in achieving an OSU degree.

INTO OSU strives to guarantee that the international students are given all the resources they need to continue to grow and succeed, both in college, as well as later in life.

One of the main challenges that students face when studying abroad is the language barrier, because it affects their abilities to understand the people around them, making their immersion into the new culture even harder than it already is.

“It is a national discourse about inclusivity, safe learning spaces, and […] how different students learn differently.” Julianna said.

INTO OSU provides them not only with opportunities for English conversation exposure and language learning, but also with basic living tips and tricks like differentiating when you go to the health center versus when you go to the Emergency Room. Situations like this can be lost in translation and could be dire if not taught correctly. To combat this problem, INTO OSU creates handbooks, as well as paid positions, that support specific language-speaking groups.

“We’re able to offer students language support during their first year, without slowing down their time to graduation which didn’t use to be possible” said Julianna.

One position aims to help students who speak primarily Chinese to understand the advising process, something that is not common in Chinese Universities, as well as teaching them the basics of the English language.

This is especially important to OSU’s newly hired Chinese Language and Culture Advisor, Yiwei Zhu, as she knows this experience all too well.

“In China we have a different education system, so, for example, we do not have academic advisors or a lot of the resources OSU provides at Chinese Universities,” Zhu said. “This is new to Chinese students so I really appreciate that INTO OSU has hired me to help the students.”

The academic side of INTO OSU is a substantial portion of what they do for students. They have academic programs that focus on different areas of academia, yet are all centered around making the OSU academic transition from their original schooling, to schooling in America.

Policies like Academic Dishonesty are difficult to translate and understand when there is a language barrier, so the language and academic resources come together to help them as much as they can.

“All of them come from different cultures that have different understandings of what [academic honesty] is,” said interim Director of Academic Programs Elena Sapp. “We provide this educational piece, which is a really big piece of what we do.”

There is no doubt that academics is incredibly important to the College process. Within the Academic division, there are four different sections of Academic programming, each with their own project managers.

This in particular goes to show how devoted INTO OSU is to helping students achieve academically.

“For most of our students, they’re here for the long haul” Betjemann said.

Her position encompasses everything from student immersion to basic day to day resource education. All parts of the experience that make their schooling both enjoyable and worthwhile.

Making sure they know all of the resources offered to them is one of Julianna’s biggest goals, because if they are utilized to their full extent, students can find clubs, organizations and even teams to be a part of while here at OSU.

“We are always looking for partnerships with colleges.” Sapp said. “We are looking for different types of partnerships […] on all levels, academic level, student services level, support level.”

This is another situation where we see the INTO group combining forces to help tackle all problems that international students may face, strengthening their program as a whole.

The reason that both international students and domestic students are able to succeed, come from the devoted staff in programs like INTO OSU. Betjemann, Sapp and Zhu are integral in the transition from the students native culture, to the culture they will be surrounded by.

“I don’t think it’s hard to convince people to come to OSU,” Julianna said. “I think OSU sells itself.”

With INTO opening a new office in Latin America, OSU may be selling itself to a

new influx of students from that part of the world very soon.

The sole purpose of this group is to better the lives and experiences of students who start with a language or cultural barrier, and they are hoping to expand their services to help OSU become as inclusive as possible.

It is not unrealistic to assume that Initiatives like INTO and President Ray’s new Diversity position will become a norm at universities across the nation.

“OSU is in a beautiful time and place right now with the commitments the president has made, the effects of the Student SpeakOut, the creation of the Chief Diversity Officer position” Julianna said. “It just makes it so exciting to be at OSU and I think those efforts will benefit international students.”