International student enrollment reaches 20-year high

International student enrollment reaches 20-year high

By Matt Daray

International students have shown an increased interest in the university as their enrollment has reached its highest number in 20 years.

Enrollment of new undergraduate and graduate international students, along with students enrolling to take English as a second language, has increased 20 percent from last year’s numbers — the highest it has been since the 1993 fall semester. Several university officials, including Chancellor Rita Cheng, attributed the rise to increased national efforts to recruit exchange students and improved efforts from university recruiters worldwide.

“We’ve been working very hard at recruitment efforts throughout the world, and we have seen a remarkable increase due to the communication and marketing that we are doing internationally as well as the growing reputation of our English as a second language program,” she said.


Cheng said another factor in the high enrollment is a growing interest in the university from undergraduate freshmen or transfer international students. She said international undergraduate enrollment has increased 20 percent since last year.

International students are highly sought after at universities nationwide, especially research universities, because it offers more cultural experiences to colleges, she said.

“It’s most important for research universities because it combines a very rich environment for students to come to a very large research university that has such cultural diversity, and international students bring a very rich cultural experience for our students,” Cheng said.

Carla Coppi, director of the center for international education, said the enrollment increase is incredible because it happened without the university’s Nakajo, Japan, campus, which was a main source of students but has since closed down. The branch campus brought in large numbers of students, she said, including 80 of 361 students in the 1993 fall semester.

“To now have 348 without that very important overseas branch campus and still have such a high number is quite impressive,” she said.

Coppi said international student relations increased recruiting, online presence and overseas fairs. She said recruitment has been happening in areas such as India, Singapore, Malaysia and three locations in China.

International Student Services also has one of the largest numbers of recruiters travel around the world in university history, Coppi said.


“We have really been out on the road more than we’ve ever been that I can remember in my 30 years I’ve worked in international education,” she said. “We have never had as many people out on the road as we have had in the last two years, and I think it’s paying off.”

Demand and competition between universities to enroll international students has increased in the last decade, Coppi said. She said the demand comes from all universities’ desires to beat out the competition and gain as high an international enrollment as possible.

Some international students say they chose to attend the university because it provides opportunities that no other university can.

Syed Nafis, a senior from Bangladesh studying journalism, said he came to the university because it accepted more of his credits than any other college he was interested in.

“Basically, it was the only university in the United States that had an affiliation with the university I come from, so (it) was easy to transfer credits,” he said.

Abdullah Albuali, a graduate student in computer science from Saudi Arabia, said he decided to attend the university because it offered majors for him and his wife.

“I have family, so I looked for a school that has my major and my wife’s major as well and for some place that is quiet,” he said. “This school is kind of good for us.”