Foreign students ‘internationalize’ state schools

America’s universities have a significant economic stake in keeping our nation’s borders as open as possible to young men and women from other countries eager to study here and win degrees from what still rank among the world’s best.
A foreign student at the University of Kansas can expect to spend $30,000 a year, including out-of-state tuition, room, board, books and incidental expenses. This semester, KU has 1,926 foreign graduate and undergraduate students enrolled. The money they bring to the university and to the state’s economy in these lean times is significant.
It is interesting to look at growth of the numbers of students from abroad over the past four years. In 2005, KU had 561 undergraduates from abroad, down from 739 in 2001. Last fall, that total had increased to 799 — back above the pre-9/11 level.
In response to the terrorist attacks in 2001, Congress and the administration slapped tough visa requirements on all who applied for student visas, particularly on nationals from the Middle East and other countries with large Muslim populations. Because KU had been a popular university with students from Saudi Arabia and other nations in the region, the numbers of those students dropped sharply.
Feeling the pinch, KU and other universities throughout our nation set up offices to help students get visas and urged Congress and the administration to be more selective in making visa decisions. They also worked diligently to make foreigners feel welcome on campus and to help them overcome language and cultural barriers and succeed in their studies.
Word of mouth is the best advertisement universities have to recruit from other countries so as these efforts succeeded with students already here, recruitment of new students to join their friends in the U.S. followed.

CHANGES IN distribution of wealth throughout the world also is reflected on U. S. campuses. For the first time ever, China has more of its students studying at KU than any other foreign nation, with a total of 642 — about three times the Chinese enrollment in 2003. The reason is the rapid growth of China’s middle class, which is providing families there with the wealth required to send their children abroad to study. For the same reason, India and South Korea rank second and third on the list of 106 nations which had one or more of their citizens enrolled at KU.
KU has an Office of International Studies charged with “internationalizing” the university, a mission that in-cludes recruitment of international students — and much, much more.
OIS also encourages and organizes study abroad programs for students and faculty, promotes lectures and other presentations that focus on other nations, connects the academic departments at KU with similar departments in foreign nations so that both can profit from the interrelationships and, in a word, seeks to instill an international (worldwide) perspective into every aspect of the university.

– Emerson Lynn, jr.