- Interstride believes universities will see a 10-15% growth in international student enrollment once its platform is widely adopted
- The company has a goal of increasing international student job placement by 30%
- According to a recent poll, universities have seen a 7% drop in international student enrollment
Both American universities and the American economy have a lot to gain with increased international student success. One technology company in the Silicon Valley thinks it has the solution.
San Francisco-based Interstride is a cloud-based app for universities, geared toward international students. The platform has resources that assist international students with job hunting, immigration laws, and cultural immersion.
The company just hit a milestone: Interstride is now available at 50 universities.
“We’re just getting started; we think every university in America needs to use our technology,” CTO Gunther Cronenberg said.
Here’s how Interstride works: Students gain access to Interstride through a university subscription. Using the mobile app, students can research companies who are hiring international students, access up-to-date visa and immigration-related information, find jobs that sponsor visas, get tips on how to interview, and access useful resources on how to assimilate into the American professional culture.
The goal is to make the entire process of enrolling, graduating and transitioning to the job market as transparent as possible.
The potential for impact is very clear. If universities can help their international students succeed, it opens the door for a much deeper alumni relationship. International students will then likely refer their friends and relatives - meaning a potential legacy stream.
Plus, university job placement rates will increase, meaning program rankings will, too.
Surprisingly, there isn’t another resource like Interstride out there. Cronenberg says there are a handful of other companies that have a few of Interstride’s features, but nothing close to what his team has developed. He estimates an eventual 10-15% growth in international student enrollment, per university, once Interstride is widely adopted and shared with prospective students, due to higher enrollment and student retention.
An added benefit: Universities may see interest from international students for the mere fact that they have an Interstride subscription.
Cronenberg hopes to see a 30% increase in retention (jobs) for international students who use Interstride’s platform. That’s huge; there’s a major brain drain here in the US, as international students regularly return to their native countries when they graduate.
“We now have provided 50 universities the ability to retain and better serve their international students,” Cronenberg said. “Traditionally, universities just aren’t equipped to serve international students properly. Each university has a career services department, but it’s focused on all students. Most counselors have limited understanding of the unique challenges and hurdles that exist for international students, nor do they have the time to handle them.”
Even as recently as 2017, universities have noticed an average drop of 7% in international student enrollment, according to Inside Higher Ed. Primary reasons include visa and immigration challenges posed by the current administration and a diminished employment bridge.
The American economy as a whole has a lot to gain from international student success, too. Interstride points out international student success means more long-term economic growth, domestically. When international students get jobs in the U.S., we all benefit.
Example: For every 10% increase in international graduate students, U.S. patent applications increased by 4.5%.
“In order to innovate and remain globally competitive, it is extremely important to continue to attract and retain international talent,” Cronenberg said. "Global academic and professional exchange is now constant and necessary, fueling the innovations essential to strengthening any nation’s economy. International students and researchers can not only add value through their intellectual and economic contributions but also add diversity to our workforce."
“The ability to attract the brightest international minds will continue to be the biggest economic differentiator in today's knowledge-based world.”
Interstride is a tool to help international students overcome many challenges. The platform provides updated information on which companies are hiring international students, as well as job-hunting tips, job positioning pointers, and even American culture assimilation resources. The yearly cost is very affordable and is based on each university’s international student population.
Interstride was formed in 2016 by Nitin Agrawal and Christian Eder - both international students themselves. Agrawal (Nepal) and Eder (Austria) both struggled during their collegiate experience, but were able to succeed as international students. They realized the need for a program that would help future international students like themselves navigate the complex American system.
Interstride is available as an app on both iPhone and Android, and as a desktop platform. Universities license the affordable platform and make it available to international students each academic year.
Interstride is about to launch a solution for domestic students as well.