UI pumps up international recruiting


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UI recruiters are a worldly bunch these days.

In an effort to increase enrollment by 100 students per year for the next five years, officials are pitching the university to prospective students in more countries than before.

Now the Hawkeye message can be heard everywhere from China to Colombia to Costa Rica to Iraq.

This fall, recruiters made 19 different trips to 15 countries, setting up booths at fairs and expos in addition to more targeted events.

Last year, UI representatives visited five countries, and officials made no recruitment trips overseas in 2007.

“We feel it’s important that Iowans come to a campus that is diverse,” said Downing Thomas, the UI associate provost for International Programs. “We want to make sure that enrollment is up, and we also want to create a campus that is rich in diversity from around the world.”

The UI saw double the number of international applications last year. Although it is too early to tell, Thomas said, he expects more applications this year.

In addition to a recent push to bolster UI enrollment, he said, officials identified the need to increase international numbers, which were remaining constant in most areas.

The UI recruits mainly in South America, the Middle East, and southern and eastern Asia, he said.

Thomas said he didn’t know how much each of the trips cost, but bringing in just one student pays for the visit several times over.

The increasing international presence at the UI mirrors a national increase in global enrollment, according to the Washington D.C.-based Institute of International Education.

International enrollment increased 10.1 percent — around 16,000 students — for first-time foreign students enrolling in the fall of 2008, the most recent data available.

India, China, and South Korea — all countries UI officials visit — had the highest number of students in the United States, according to the institute.

The UI will also recruit more extensively domestically, going to more meetings and college fairs to attract prospective students, Provost Wallace Loh said.

He said officials are strategic about where they go. Numerous students from St. Louis, for example, choose the UI, so recruiters will spend more time there.

It’s too early to know enrollment numbers for next year, but preliminary application numbers are very high, Loh said.

Additional recruitment efforts will aid the UI’s plan to add 500 students over five years as part of the UI’s strategic plan for 2010-15, which will generate extra revenue, Loh said. This will be used in part to pay for the 100 additional faculty the university hopes to add over the next five years.

Decreasing state funds, which have plummeted $65 million throughout three bouts of reductions in recent months, have forced the UI to look for other ways to find money, Loh said. The university has lost approximately 100 tenure-track positions in the past seven years, he said.

But the UI likely won’t be able to increase the number of faculty in the next year, he said, and the plan will likely take longer than five years.

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