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Defining Mid-Level Career Motivation and Primary Work Responsibilities in International Higher Education

Written by: Patricia Ryan Pal, Jon McNaughtan, Hugo A. García
Published on: Jun 3, 2022

international students with flags
Photo credit: luckybusiness/Adobe Stock

In the 2017–2018 academic year, over one million international students studied in the United States, nearly doubling from a decade prior (Institute of International Education [IIE], 2007, 2018).

International student growth has been critical to the vitality of institutions of higher education, contributing to “the diversity and internationalization of their classrooms, campuses, and communities” (Wu, Garza, & Guzman, 2015, p. 1) and increasing financial resources through tuition and fees (Altbach & Knight, 2007). Despite the apparent benefits of international students to higher education institutions, there is a lack of necessary supports (e.g., cultural, academic, and language supports) at many colleges and universities (Kher, Juneau, & Molstad, 2003; Lau, Garza, & García, 2018).

García and Villarreal (2014) posit that institutions of higher education must invest in creating the necessary support structures for international students, such as specific international centers.

However, at many institutions there are no support staff, and for those who have designated staff, we know little about who they are and what they do. This study utilizes the job, career, calling conceptual framework to analyze experiences from mid-level administrators who work with international students to explore their career motivation and their primary work responsibilities.

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