Practice Area Column

Five Ways to Support Indian Students Studying in the United States

With a growing number of Indian students on U.S. campuses, there are several ways for international offices to better support this population.
Indian students at Northeastern University during a performance celebrating Diwali. Photo: Courtesy Northeastern University
Charlotte West

With 170,000 international students from India studying in the United States in 2020–21, India is poised to soon outpace China in sending students abroad for higher education. The demand for support services targeting this population will continue to grow as these numbers rise, and international offices on U.S. campuses must find ways to engage the country’s second-largest population of international students.

Roopa Rawjee, EdD, first came to the United States in 1998 as an international master’s student at California State University-Northridge. Now she’s the assistant vice president of global affairs at Northeastern University in Boston. “I’m a former international student from India myself, and that’s why I am in international student services,” she says. “I saw the need for some thoughtful best practices in how we support our students.”

Here are five tips to better support Indian students from educators and students at institutions with large Indian populations.

1. Recognize the diversity of languages and cultures within India.

India is a huge country with distinct people groups, languages, religions, and cultures. “There is a tendency to assume that all Indian students have one identity, whereas we are such a diverse country,” Rawjee says. “We speak more than 23 languages in India, and there are over 200 dialects. So chances are that no two students are of the same identity or have the same experience.”

She says that recognizing that is key to larger goals of diversity and inclusion on campus. “It’s really important to keep in mind that while the

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