WMU News

Post 9.11 international enrollment rebounding

Nov. 22, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University's international student enrollment is edging back up to its pre-Sept. 11, 2001, high of more than 2,000 students.

Dr. Howard J. Dooley, executive director of international affairs in WMU's Office of International Affairs, reports that 1,907 international students from 100 countries are currently enrolled in degree programs.

"Although this fall's total is down 4 percent from the record 2,002 students we enrolled a year ago, it still represents our second largest international enrollment ever," Dooley says. "The Sept. 11 terrorists attacks had a significant impact on higher education institutions in the United States, but American schools continue to be accessible and continue to be the first choice of students from around the world."

Jolene Jackson, director of WMU's Office of International Student and Scholar Services, adds that the number of international students studying at WMU has decreased due to the difficulties in obtaining U.S. visas after 9/11.

"We welcome students from abroad continue to process large numbers of applications," Jackson says. "The problem is that it can now take several months for students to get visas due to the new security checks that have been put into place."

Of the 1,907 international students enrolled in degree programs at the University this fall, 1,426 or 74 percent come from Asia. Another 151 (7.9) percent are from Europe, 115 (6 percent) from the Middle East and North Africa, 98 (5 percent) from sub-Saharan Africa, and 65 (3.4 percent) from Latin America. The most popular subjects to study are business administration, engineering and computer science.

This is third consecutive year that WMU's enrolled international students come from at least 100 countries and that the largest contingent hails from India. Indians account for 31.5 percent of the international student body while the 196 students hailing from Hong Kong, the Peoples Republic of China and Taiwan, bring the total number of Chinese students to slightly more than 10 percent.

The top 10 countries of origin are, along with the number of students from these countries are: India, 600; Malaysia, 214; Japan, 111; Pakistan, 103; Hong Kong, 96; China, 69; South Korea, 47; Canada, 46; Thailand, 46; and Indonesia, 32.

"The continued growth in WMU's stature abroad and its successful 'twinning' programs at foreign institutions have been key to maintaining strong international enrollments," Dooley says. "Our Office of International Affairs helped pioneer twinning programs and remains the American leader in expanding these innovative educational partnerships."

Twinning allows international students to take the first half of their undergraduate or graduate course work in their home countries, then complete the final half at WMU or another U.S. institution. Courses take abroad are clones of WMU's courses.

The University's fall 2002 international enrollment figures also show that for the first time, graduate students are in the majority, comprising 53 percent of the current international student body compared to 49 percent in 2001. In addition, men outnumber women by more that 3 to 1, with 1,301 male students and 606 female students studying on campus.

WMU's international student community also includes 242 students who are not enrolled in degree programs, bringing the grand total to 2,149 students from 102 countries. Of these non-enrolled students, 56 are learning English through the University's Career English Language Center for International Students and 186 are interns on campus for optional practical training.

In comparison to other U.S. higher education institutions, figures released Monday, Nov. 18, by the Institute for International Education show that during the 2001-02 academic year, WMU ranked among the top 60 of the 2,697 colleges and universities reporting international enrollments and had the fourth largest number of enrolled international students in Michigan.

The IIE, which publishes an annual census of international students with support from the U.S. State Department, reported that the United States played host to a record 582,996 students from abroad during the last academic year.

Those students contributed $12 billion to the American economy, according to the IIE, and for the first time, India surpassed China as the top source country.

Overall, the IIE placed Michigan eighth among host states with 23,103 students contributing nearly $500 million to the state's economy. The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor had the largest international contingent with 4,149 students, followed by Wayne State University and Michigan State University.

The leading countries of origin for foreign students in Michigan were: India, 15.2 percent; Canada, 10.6 percent; China, 10.4 percent; the Republic of Korea, 8.3 percent; and Japan, 4. percent. The leading fields of study for these students were engineering, business and management, and mathematics and computer science.

Media note: For more information about international students at WMU, call Jolene Jackson, director of the Office of International Student and Scholar Services, at (269) 387-5880. Information about the U.S. data is available online at <www.opendoors.iienetwork.org>.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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