a journal of a researcher

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Recruiting International Students

All the graduate schools, even in the top universities, are lack of native students in science and engineering disciplines. International students are needed. But recruiting international students has some risks – you do not know who they are, their background culture and their working habits. Some will meet your expectation. Some need a lot time to adapt to the working environment in the new country.

1) In some countries, small lies are not counted as not ethic. But in Canada, you should always tell the truths, even inconvenient truth.
2) Students from some countries are good in exams, but lack of training in doing research. Critical thinking, reading research papers, presentations are all needed to be trained. An international student can take more time to get into the right mode to do research.
3) Communication. Even if English is not a problem, it is more difficult to communicate with international students. You need to take more time to make sure that they understand what to do and how to do. Some do not have the habit to answer emails on time. You need to teach them what is a good working habit.
4) Loyalty. This is the most problematic issue. Although the students have the freedom to switch professors and universities, it is not ethic to switch without mutual understanding. I have heard that students from a certain country are used to shop around professors after their arrivals. They can switch to another professor due to a thousand dollars increasing in their scholarship. After several of this case happened, our department does not welcome more students from that country.
5) Reputation. The international students help us to know their culture, their countries and their universities. The reputation set up by the early comers will influence the acceptance of their followers.

A note at the end of the first term

I finished the first term as a faculty in university. Here is a note about my work:

1. There is strong correlation between a professor’s marking to his/her popularity. I found a lot of students care about only the marks, not the knowledge or the skills they will rely on in their future jobs. “Strong correlation” means it is the major factor in students’ evaluation about the prof. So, it should be discussed how to use the students’ evaluation in evaluating the professors.

2. Any mistakes will be amplified among your students. For example, a typo will be reported multiple times. This is like I make multiple typos. Then I feel my assignments or exams are full of typos. I cannot stay undisturbed. For the final exam, I carefully read and tried the exam before I gave it for print. Finally no more typos were reported for the final exam. Think, if I make a mistake in my lecture, each mistake will be repeated by many students. I think I did not make easy mistakes, i.e. stupid, basic mistakes.

3. Be aware that you have all kinds of students. I find a certain kind of students, normally they are from certain countries, like to ask extra things, from extension to more marks. I heard many times “I want to get maximum I deserve”. But most cases, they ask for extra benefits without willing to put extra efforts. I normally point out to them that they need to “win” the privilege of deadline extension or reducing of the penalty. Hopefully they understand this.

4. Tightening the rules is much better than losing them. You should make the rules very clear at the beginning of the term. Changing the rules in the middle of the term will raise a lot of complaints. Also think carefully the rules you set up. If not properly set, the rules can be biased.