Exploring the Extent of International Undergraduate Students’ Academic Struggles during the COVID-19 Pandemic


  • Barry Fass-Holmes University California San Diego


What was the extent to which international undergraduates struggled academically during the COVID-19 pandemic’s educational disruptions? To address this question, the present study analyzed grade point averages (GPAs) of all international undergraduates at an American West Coast public university during the 2019–2020 academic year. Less than 10% of these students who previously entered the university as transfers (TRAN), and less than 5% who previously entered as first-time undergraduates (NFRS), earned GPAs below 2.0 during fall 2019; i.e., before the pandemic. Contrary to expectations, these percentages decreased by 80.2% and 69.5%, respectively, in spring 2020; i.e., during the pandemic. The present findings indicate that only a small minority of the university’s international undergraduate population struggled academically during the COVID-19 pandemic’s first year. Potential explanations for these unexpected findings are discussed.


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COVID-19 and Global Higher Education (Completed)