International graduate student numbers rising

BY ARIANA WITT | APRIL 06, 2010 7:30 AM

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As University of Iowa officials continue to emphasize the importance of enrolling international graduate students, a new study indicates that’s a trend mirrored at universities nationwide.

The Council of Graduate Schools — a national organization that aims to promote graduate education — is releasing a survey today of universities and colleges in the United States that suggests the rate of international applications to U.S. graduate schools has increased 7 percent from 2009 to 2010.

Midwest schools on average increased international graduate applications by approximately 8 percent — the second highest in the country, according to the survey.

The UI Graduate College saw a 10 percent increase in international applications for the 2009-10 school year compared with the 2008-09 year, said John Keller, the dean of the UI Graduate College.

This increase indicates the UI is an institution with increased interest from students abroad, he said.

“It speaks to the high quality of programs in the Graduate College and quality students wanting to take advantage of those programs,” Keller said.

Both nationally and at the UI, chemistry and business are among the most popular programs for foreign graduate students, said Scott King, director of the UI Office of International Students and Scholars.

Despite being on track with national trends, he said, the UI’s graduate and professional colleges remain below Midwest peer institutions in regards to international graduate and professional student recruitment.

He noted other universities’ average percentage of international graduate students is around 2 percent greater than the UI’s.

“It has to do with the majors offered and the size of the colleges,” he said.

King pointed to the UI’s relatively small engineering program, noting many comparable universities in the region have much larger programs.

The Council of Graduate Schools’ survey indicated international graduate engineering was the third most popular course of study in the U.S.

Hyunok Jo, a second-year UI graduate student in chemistry from South Korea, said she hopes to earn a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the university.

“I enjoy the diversity among students here, and I think the UI gives many opportunities to international students,” she said.

The UI has a stream of students enrolling from Asian countries, officials said.

The national survey projects South Korean graduate students have decreased 9 percent in the last year. Though they’re ranked as one of the lowest for recruitment nationwide, students from South Korea are one of the UI’s largest international pools.

“Students from China, India, and South Korea have been consistent applicants for us,” King said.

UI officials are working to increase recruitment numbers from Asian countries because the area has many intellectual, high-quality students.

“We want them to know Iowa is a good place for them to continue their education,” he said.

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