Officials at four-year institutions are working to recruit more international students
The number of international students on local college campuses is on the rise as officials are working to develop more globally aware graduates.
Officials at Christopher Newport University, Hampton University and the College of William and Mary said efforts are underway to recruit more international students. Having individuals from other countries on a college campus benefits both the college community and the visiting students, they said.
“There’s a two-way embrace,” said Ebony Majeed, director of the International Office at Hampton University. “I think it’s very beneficial for all.”
School officials said increasing international awareness on college campuses is a global trend as employers seek individuals who understand other cultures. Students who are exposed to countries beyond their own borders can learn about cultural differences, gain knowledge about the workings of other economies, and learn to better appreciate their own countries, among other benefits, they said.
“Higher education is becoming more globally focused,” Majeed said.
Officials said they’re also working to increase opportunities for their students to study abroad. All three schools assist students with obtaining scholarships and other financial support to fund educational experiences outside the United States. But they said they recognize not all students are able to go, so it’s important to make sure there’s exposure on campus.
“Having a vibrant and diverse population of international students on our campus enriches every aspect of our intellectual community,” said Stephen E. Hanson, vice provost for international affairs and director of the Reves Center for International Studies at the College of William and Mary. “International students literally bring the world to William & Mary. So even those students who don’t get the chance to study abroad can learn about global perspectives they might otherwise never encounter.”
The College of William and Mary has taken the most ambitious approach of the three schools. Officials have set a strategic goal of at least 600 international students from more than 60 countries. They’ve exceeded the number of students with both undergraduate and graduate students combined and are just a few countries short of 60.
Officials said promotion by word of mouth and social media through their alumni network is largely responsible for the increase. But there are recruitment efforts from many of the university’s schools and programs. The Mason School of Business, for example, travels internationally to meet prospective students. In the sciences, graduate students are often recruited through faculty partnerships with universities abroad.
At Hampton University, there is no strategic plan, Majeed said, but they’ve made many efforts to recruit international students. The college participates in multiple exchange programs through the Institute for International Education and other special arrangements, she said.
For example, the school has an exchange partnership with Nanyang Polytechnic in Singapore — the HU-NYP Exchange Program — that allows a group of HU students to visit Singapore each summer and enroll in business management courses. The Singaporean participants enroll in sports management courses at HU each fall, she said.
The school has also recruited nearly a quarter of its international students through athletic programs, she said.
Christopher Newport University has not made any formal attempts to recruit international students, but officials are researching efforts going forward, according to Robert Lange, dean of admissions.
Lange said athletics and other special programs have attracted international students. About 1 percent of the school’s population is made up of individuals there on a student visa, he said.
“We’ve just accommodated those who are a good fit that apply,” he said.
Lange said a primary reason why CNU has not more aggressively pursued international students is because the campus does not provide special services for them. While W&M and HU offer developmental courses, such as English as a Second Language, or ESL, the help is not available at CNU. All students who enroll at the university must meet the same minimum education criteria, he said.
HU and W&M also have international centers, which provide visa consultation, tutoring and other support services.
Rachel Kallon, 19, a W&M international student from Sierra Leone in Africa, said the help saved her when she tried to visit her parents in India during the recent holiday break. She said she got stuck in customs in Washington, D.C., because she didn’t have the correct paperwork. She called the Reves Center at W&M, and the center immediately emailed the documents.