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International Student Enrollment On The Rise In The U.S.

Local Universities Discuss Trends; CSULB Ranks Number 2 For Masters Programs

By Kendra Ablaza - Staff Writer

January 29, 2013 - International student enrollment in the United States is growing, and local universities are feeling the impact.

According to an information guide by the Institute of International Education (IIE) titled “Open Doors,” published in November 2012, total international student enrollment in the U.S. increased by 6 percent in 2011-12 to a record high of 764,495, while new international student enrollment increased 6.5 percent at 228,467.

China was listed as the top place of origin of international students in 2011-12, followed by India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Canada. Together these countries of origin comprise 56 percent of all international students, according to the guide.

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California also remains the top American state for hosting international students, followed by New York and Texas. Open Doors states California’s international enrollment rose 6.5 percent from 96,535 in the 2010-2011 academic year to 102,789 in 2011-12.

Jeet Joshee, associate vice president of international education and dean of the College of Continuing and Professional Education at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), said Southern California has always been a popular destination for international students. He mentioned that the number of international students has increased over the years not only in the U.S, but also in the United Kingdom and Canada.

Joshee identified China, India, Korea, Vietnam, Japan and Saudi Arabia as the top countries of origin for CSULB’s international students.

In the 2011-12 academic year, international students attending CSULB for their undergraduate and graduate degrees made up 3 percent, or 1,406 students, of campus enrollment. Joshee said this number has risen slowly for last five years “ranging from a low of 1,250.” According to IIE, CSULB ranks Number 2 in the top 40 master’s institutions with the most international students. The university had 2,563 international students in their master’s program during the 2011-12 academic year.

The Open Doors guide also noted that undergraduate international students outnumbered graduate international students in 2011-12. Joshee said the same is true at CSULB.

“Overall [the number of international students coming to the U.S.] decreased after 9/11. This past year we surpassed the pre-9/11 numbers,” Joshee said. “It is a welcome sign that things are improving. Especially in California, we see that trend.”

Brent Yunek, assistant vice chancellor of enrollment services at University of California, Irvine (UCI), said their number of international students and international applicants also increased. For the fall 2012 semester, international undergrads increased 6.9 percent, totaling 1,420 this past year compared to 1,274 in fall 2011.

Yunek identified students from Asia, particularly mainland China, Taiwan and South Korea, as UCI’s primary countries of origin. Students also come from Canada, Mexico, Europe, the Middle East and South America, “although in much smaller numbers,” he said.

“What we understand [contributes to] the rising interest is the increasing resources of many families, making the option to study abroad more available,” he said. “There is strong interest in education in these cultures, given the rising demand fueled by their growing economies. It’s created a supply and demand situation. The supply of [their home] universities isn’t enough to meet demand.”

The assistant chancellor said everything UCI is experiencing can be applied UC-wide, “though some demand is greater than others,” he noted.

Yunek said that there has always been international demand for graduate degrees from U.S. universities, but the more recent growth has been in the undergraduate level. He also believes the students’ home countries prefer them to return after graduating, but he sees undergrad international students that both return home and stay in the U.S., most likely to acquire masters degrees.

There may be a difference in the international admissions growth of public and private universities, however. For example, at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) Worldwide Los Angeles Campus, located in Long Beach, Director of Academic Support Carol Sommers said their center had one international student.

However, Melanie Hanns, national media director for the university, said international student enrollment increased at their Daytona Beach, Florida, and Prescott, Arizona, residential campuses. She added that international enrollment would vary substantially based on location when it comes to ERAU’s 150 worldwide campuses, since this branch of the university caters mostly to students seeking advanced degrees.

“With international students, it’s hard to gage,” Hanns said. “Because we are aviation and aerospace focused, we have a very [particular] core audience, and a specific group of potential students.”

Hanns said one advantage for Embry-Riddle’s international students is that courses are available on online as well as at their campuses, so the university is “constantly looking at increasing enrollment” from all sectors. She also said students with a military focus have an advantage at ERAU because some campuses are located on military bases.

“Our worldwide [branch] is growing like mad, because aviation is international,” Hanns said. “We anticipate that our university will continue to grow.”

Open Doors reported the most popular fields of study for students from China, India and South Korea include business management, education, engineering, fine/applied arts and health professions. International students contributed over $22.7 billion to the U.S. economy in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.