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UI gaining international regard

BY NORA HEATON | JANUARY 27, 2010 7:30 AM

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One freshman from Hungary learned about the UI through his grandparents. A Chinese student heard about the campus through a friend. Another discovered it on the Internet.

Some international students find the UI on their own, but university officials are hoping increased recruitment efforts abroad will help them.

Recent cuts to state funding have prompted school officials to seek more nonresidents, who pay higher tuition rates, to help subsidize costs. Increasingly, this means looking overseas.

Recruitment teams use numerous strategies, said Downing Thomas, the dean of International Programs. UI representatives travel abroad to visit college fairs and high schools — particularly those that prepare students well or those at which UI recruiters have had past success.

Officials provide informational brochures and websites in numerous languages. In addition, UI alumni who hail from certain countries and have returned there sometimes serve as resources for prospective students.

Scott King, the director of the UI Office of International Students and Scholars, said the Provost’s Office launched a new committee to increase international recruitment around three years ago, when officials realized international numbers at the UI were going down. Last fall, they saw a record-high number of 661 international students enroll at the university.

The committee began with a budget of about $100,000. By this year, it had increased to $140,000.
Many current UI international students agree the university’s web presence was instrumental in their decision.

Peyton Sun, a freshman from Qingdao, China, who applied through e-mail, called the wealth of information on the Internet “magical.”

Another freshman, Meng Xiong, said she was in contact with UI representatives throughout the application process. After the Wuhan, China, native heard about the university through a friend, she sent an e-mail to the Admissions Office. She quickly received additional information — even advice on choosing a major.

Ugandan sophomore Bridgar Yiga knew about the university because of cousins who attended Iowa State University. And freshman David Kimball of Budapest, Hungary, learned about the university through family as well — though, he said, even without this connection, he thinks he would have ended up at the UI because of its “good ratio between social life and academics.”

But not every university is taking such an active approach to recruitment.

Bonnie Dix, international credential evaluator for ISU, said the school’s global recruitment is always in flux rather than working toward an active increase.

Aside from the financial benefits, Thomas said, the UI seeks international students to help “contribute to campus diversity and bring a global perspective to the university.”

UI Provost Wallace Loh noted that in tomorrow’s world, international awareness is particularly important.

“You have to have to have a university without borders,” he said. “We would be doing it without this financial crunch, because it’s the right thing to do.”


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