New initiative supports international students unable to return to campus

Author: Colleen Wilcox


Notre Dame International has launched a new initiative to better support international students unable to return to campus for the current academic semester and beyond. The initiative, called Engage ND, helps connect students to campus resources and the Notre Dame global network, enhancing their experience and relationship with the University.

This fall, close to thirty percent of international undergraduates were unable to make it to campus due to the global suspension of visa processing and entry restrictions. At the time, Notre Dame International worked with partners across campus to create programs that allowed these students to continue their studies with the University. Students were offered a variety of enrollment opportunities including Study Away Locally (SAL), ND Explorer, remote learning opportunities, and absent options such as deferral or leave of absence (LOA).

“While we are extremely happy to welcome the vast majority of our students back to campus, a large number of international students have not been able to return,” says Miranda Ma, senior advisor for Asia at Notre Dame International.

“We wanted to find a way to build and strengthen their sense of belonging to the ND community while not physically here.”

Ma worked with international colleagues, campus partners, and student volunteers to launch the Engage ND initiative this fall. The goal is to create opportunities for these students to utilize campus resources and connect with the University community both on campus and globally.

“For our international students unable to travel to campus for the fall semester, Engage ND has been a wonderful platform to electronically bridge the distance that these students would otherwise feel from the South Bend campus,” says Dhiraj Mehra, director for initiatives in India at Notre Dame International.

Every other week, an email newsletter is sent out to international students highlighting virtual programs, events, opportunities, and resources as part of the Engage ND initiative. In addition, students are invited to virtual community gatherings at NDI’s global locations to build new connections, share experiences, and discover new academic opportunities.

As part of the initiative, the Beijing Global Gateway (BGG) developed a program to help equip students with essential and in-demand knowledge and skills in the job market and workplace. Students enrolled in the BGG Professional Development and Ethics Program are connected to virtual or on-site internships and resources in career development, ethical leadership cultivation, and diversity and inclusivity education. The program targets SAL, deferred, and LOA students in China and also welcomes the participation of other international students who are not able to be on campus.

“Fall 2020 is an unprecedented semester in Notre Dame history,” says Ma.

“Through this initiative, we hope our international students feel engaged with campus as much as possible, as they add vibrancy and diversity to the University community.”

Contact Miranda Ma for more information on Engage ND.

Originally published by Colleen Wilcox at on November 02, 2020.