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SUNY Plattsburgh, 'A World-Class Institution'

SUNY Plattsburgh has topped the charts for a second year in a row when it comes to international students’ overall satisfaction, according to the Fall 2011 International Student Barometer.

The survey of international students ranks the college No. 1 out of the 18 participating universities in the United States and No. 2 out of 208 in the world for overall satisfaction. This is up from last year’s results, when SUNY Plattsburgh was No. 1 out of 13 for overall satisfaction in the United States and No. 3 out of 203 in the world.

SUNY Plattsburgh ranked highly on a number of other measures, as well, including the following:

- No. 1 in the United States and the world for both learning support and performance feedback.

- No. 1 in the United States and in the world for ability to make friends from the host country and other countries upon arrival.

- No. 1 in the United States and in the world for housing conditions upon arrival.

- No. 1 in the United States and the world for its Office of International Student Services.

- No. 1 in the United States and the world for visa advice.

- No. 1 in the United States and No. 2 in the world for overall satisfaction with the arrival experience.

- No. 1 in the United States and No. 2 in the world for ability to make friends in host country during the students’ time spent on campus.

- No. 1 in the United States and No. 3 in the world for overall learning satisfaction.

“We are so proud of SUNY Plattsburgh’s superior performance on the International Student Barometer,” said Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “SUNY is dedicated to providing a friendly learning environment for all of our students, and it is no surprise that SUNY Plattsburgh’s own international students have recognized the campus as world-class. Congratulations to the campus administration, faculty and staff who have contributed to this accomplishment. SUNY Plattsburgh continues to serve SUNY's commitment to globalization and sets an example for colleges and universities across the nation.”

Independently administered by the International Graduate Insight Group Ltd., the ISB is the world’s largest international student survey, providing global, regional and customized benchmarks for international student satisfaction. It tracks decision-making, expectations, perceptions and experiences of international students through an online questionnaire. The current survey is comprised of input from 209,422 international students attending 238 institutions in 16 countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Canada and Italy.

Overseas schools participating in the fall 2011 ISB include Oxford, Edinburgh University, St. Andrews University and the University of Adelaide. Also in the mix were American schools like George Washington University, Kent State University, Drexel University, Arizona State University and Northeastern University.

“These results once again confirm what we already know: Our faculty and staff work hard to provide exceptional educational experience to international students — and to all of our students,” SUNY Plattsburgh President John Ettling said. “The International Student Barometer results show that these efforts do not go unnoticed.”

Ettling added that he is also particularly proud of the work done by the Office of International Student Services. “They create a warm welcome for our students and generate friends around the world.”

Jackie Girard Vogl, the college’s assistant vice president for international enrollment management, who oversees the efforts of the ISS office, said she was once again humbled by the rankings.

Part of the reason for this success, Vogl said, was the hard work her staff does in finding those students who are a good match for the school.

“Satisfaction is achieved when someone’s experience with a product or service matches or exceeds their expectations,” Vogl said. “The staff in International Student Services at SUNY Plattsburgh interacts frequently and honestly with prospective students and their families in order to be sure that they have enough information to make an informed decision about enrollment. International students expect that the college will provide an exceptional living and learning environment, and we do, thanks to the efforts of the entire community.”

As SUNY Plattsburgh’s success has become known, other colleges have begun to turn to Vogl and her staff in search of best practices. In fact, Vogl was recently invited to serve as an expert in a strategic planning retreat sponsored by NAFSA, the world’s largest nonprofit professional association dedicated to international education. There, she will take part in discussions focusing on strategic planning around preparation and services leading to retention and graduation.

When colleagues have asked for the secret to SUNY Plattsburgh’s success, Vogl has offered what advice she can.

“I have happily shared ideas about developing a student-centered international student office, an engaging orientation program and a responsive admissions process,” Vogl said. “But what makes all the difference is the people in my office and throughout campus who are passionate about their work and devoted to student success.”

Meanwhile, Associate Director of International Student Services Cat Young pointed out that the survey also indicated areas that need improvement.

“The survey has shown us an opportunity to diversify the food selection available on campus. It also indicated that even while these students highly value the support they receive from our Financial Aid Office, they hope more financial assistance will be possible in the future,” Young said.

Young also noted that that students want to see better transportation and worship facilities on campus.

SUNY Plattsburgh has one of the largest international student populations per capita of any comprehensive college in the State University of New York system, with 361 students coming from a wide variety of countries including Canada, Antigua, the People’s Republic of China, Egypt, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Tanzania and India.

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