National Center for Campus Public Safety

Criminal Victimization of International Students: A National Conversation on Effective Prevention Practices

Download findings from the forum.
Since the end of the Second World War, international student enrollment in colleges and universities across the U.S. has grown steadily with enrollment exceeding 1 million international students for the first time in the 2015/16 school year. While 60% of the international students enrolled in the 2015/16 school year came from China, India, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea, virtually every country around the world is represented on U.S. campuses. Though these students arrive with a wide variety of perspectives, traditions, and values, they share a common desire: to take advantage of the tremendous educational and cultural opportunities the U.S. has to offer.

Because international students are a growing, integral part of campuses across the U.S., it is imperative that campus professionals gain a deeper understanding of the safety risks that uniquely confront this diverse community. This is particularly true in cases of criminal victimization of international students. While the risk of criminal victimization for college students has been widely explored in general, the risk has not been explored specifically for international students.

In an effort to get a more accurate picture of criminal victimization of international students, the National Center for Campus Public Safety convened a daylong forum to facilitate thoughtful conversations about preventing criminal victimization of international students attending U.S. institutions of higher education. Participants represented campuses across the country and included university and college chiefs of police and international student administrators. Representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security also participated in the conversations, giving guidance on resources, funding, and training available at a federal level.

Forum participants agreed that while reducing criminal victimization of international students is a top priority, several unique challenges are keeping more effective prevention practices from taking root on campuses across the country. They recognized that many of these challenges could be overcome by increasing engagement with international students, improving coordination between officials on and off campus, and by deploying more proactive measures to address fundamental environmental conditions that may lead to an elevated risk of victimization.

Key takeaways and conclusions from the forum discussions, including potential recommendations for preventing criminal victimization, constitute the principal findings of this report.

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