Abstract: Unique Challenges of International Students during COVID-19 Pandemic: An Overlooked Minority? (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Unique Challenges of International Students during COVID-19 Pandemic: An Overlooked Minority?

Friday, January 13, 2023
Camelback A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Rami Benbenishty, PhD, Professor Emritus, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Miriam Schiff, PhD, Professor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
Ruth Pat-Horenczyk, PhD, Professor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Background and Purpose: There is growing evidence that university and college students are experiencing significant challenges during the pandemic. International students are considered an especially vulnerable group. To date, however, there is little research documenting whether they experience more difficulties during COVID-19 pandemic compared with local students. The aim of the study was to compare international and local students’ self-reported health difficulties, COVID-19 related concerns, economic situation, academic experiences, self-perceived coping effectiveness, levels of anxiety and depression, and perceived need for help.

Methods: Participants completed an online anonymous survey. The sample was stratified and included 12,750 local and 625 international students in Israeli universities. T-tests were used to compare raw scores on outcome variables, and ANCOVA was utilized to compare scores after controlling for background variables.

Results: International students rated their health as significantly worse compared with local students. Local students described worsening of their situation significantly more than the international students. International students had more positive views of the university compared with local students; however, more international students felt discriminated against because of their religious, ethnic, or social affiliation. After controlling for background variables, international students reported significantly more anxiety than their local counterparts but not more need for help.

Conclusions and Implications: Controlling for background variables added to our understanding of the unique circumstances of international students. The study has identified several areas of vulnerability (e.g., health and social support) that the host universities should consider to develop effective support for international students in these trying times.