Every Thursday, Kafe Kerouac becomes a hub for international exchange near the Ohio State University campus.
China, Saudi Arabia, Poland, South Korea and Ecuador were a few of the nations represented recently at its biweekly English conversation hour — evidence that the university’s effort to recruit more international students is paying off.
“In academics, this place is better,” said Yuzhou Liu, a graduate student in computer science and engineering at Ohio State. “People here are more serious about research. Back in my college (in China), they are not really treating their Ph.D. as a career, they’re just going to get a degree.
Liu is one of Ohio State’s 6,039 international students who have come to get an American degree, a rising trend among foreign students.
Ohio State has nearly tripled its international undergraduate enrollment in the past five years. Dolan Evanovich, vice president for strategic enrollment planning, said the five-year plan that the university created in 2008 placed more emphasis on recruiting students from emerging world powers, such as China, India and Brazil, and increasing the number and retention of international freshman.
“We focused on where we will attract the best and most talented students from across the country and reached out across the world to target areas of high-achieving international students,” he said.
“International students bring a wealth of diversity, culture, ideas and experiences to our classrooms and residence halls so that all of our students can experience and learn from each other.”
Ohio State had 3,345 international undergrads and 2,694 graduate students last school year. In 2008, it had 1,397 international undergrads and 2,642 graduate students.
Ohio ranks eighth in the nation in the number of foreign students attending public universities, with 28,401 students across 13 of its public universities, according to an Institute of International Education report. Foreign students, who pay out-of-state tuition, paid the schools more than $772 million last year, the institute reported.
At Ohio State, an international freshman pays out-of-state tuition, room and board, health insurance and book fees that amount to $44,215, which includes a $500 international undergraduate student fee. Other universities in Ohio also assess international fees.
“Our costs are reasonable. OSU is a great value in the marketplace,” Evanovich said. “Our room, board and tuition fees are among the lowest for schools in the Big Ten.”
The University of Toledo had the highest percentage increase in international enrollment between 2007 and 2012, state figures show. Toledo went from 170 foreign full-time and part-time students to 1,431 — a 741 percent increase, according to the Ohio Board of Regents. Regents spokesman Jeff Robinson said international enrollment numbers have not been completed for school years 2013 and 2014.
Mark Schroeder, director of international admissions at Toledo, said one reason for Toledo’s upswing in international enrollment is Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Scholarship Program, which has sent more than 50,000 Saudi students to American universities and contributed to a boost in Toledo’s engineering program.
Bowling Green State University and Central State University both showed decreases in their international student populations. From 2007 to 2012, Bowling Green’s international undergraduates increased by only 3.3 percent. Its international graduate students decreased by 15.2 percent.
“I believe we will eventually catch up,” said Maria Salazar-Valentine, executive director of enrollment management at Bowling Green. “It’s a question of having a plan in place and the support of the administration. This current administration is much more focused on international education in terms of support at BGSU.”
Salazar-Valentine said the university’s strategic plan to be implemented this fall aims to double its international enrollment by 2018.
Private universities in Ohio also are following the trend. C. Todd Jones, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio, said international enrollment at private and independent colleges has grown by more than 50 percent since 2007.
The University of Dayton has gained 622 foreign undergraduate students since 2007, for a total of 716 as of fall 2013, and Case Western Reserve University has added 267 students. This year, it had a 35 percent increase in applications from students outside the U.S.
By Madeleine Winer - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
©2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
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