International Student Success: Analysis of the Correlation Between Academic Preparedness and Academic Performance

This project originated from the aspiration to analyze how the admission process functions in terms of identifying the international students’ preparedness for a post-secondary program. Adequate evaluation of international students’ suitability for a program is crucial for setting the grounds of their future academic success. There have been concerns raised about international students’ attrition, especially in the intense Health Studies programs, and this project sheds light on what these withdrawal rates actually are vis-à-vis domestic students’ rates. The process of admissions is, of course, not the only factor affecting students’ success and, out of the wide array of other factors (e.g. institutional student supports, educational system, or personal) it is impossible to distinguish which ones have a greater impact as they function in their entirety.

With the rapidly growing number of international students at NorQuest College, concerns have been raised regarding their transition to the Canadian education system, which appeared challenging for many International students. In order to provide adequate support during the transition process and to evaluate admission requirement relevancy in relation to student academic success, it therefore became imperative to identify any pre-existing factors which may positively or negatively impact student progress and success.

Design of this research is determined by the quantitative character of investigation and by the intention to use the statistical data for justifying the assumption that academic success and retention can be predicted based on demographic and academic variables. Data collection encompassed all international students during the past 5 academic years (from Fall 2011 to Fall 2016) and domestic students (Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents) of the same time span. Regression SPSS analysis has determined significance of each of the variables in achieving higher academic results, thus identifying the student groups which are more likely to succeed in post-secondary programs. The results collected through regression analysis have helped identify the gaps in admission requirements and have provided a basis for recommendations of admission procedures and student services improvements.

The data has shown that attrition rates for international students and domestic students are virtually identical, contrary to the popular misconception among staff that rates of attrition for international students are higher than those for domestic students. Research outcomes demonstrate that international attrition rates are primarily due to unsatisfactory progress, insufficient GPA for graduation, and course failure. All three factors are interrelated, and have more complex root causes that can be explored to improve student support services. Although not unique to just international students, the analysis taken from this study can be further explored to improve support services, benefiting all students.

Project Lead:

Elena Spirkina
International Student Advisor, NorQuest International
NorQuest College


Research Assistants:

Jane Ogbonna
Student Navigator, NorQuest College