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UI kicks off International Education Week celebration

BY CASSIDY RILEY | NOVEMBER 13, 2012 6:30 AM

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The University of Iowa failed to place on a national list of top 25 schools attracting foreign students despite UI expenditures totaling more than $130,000 each year on international recruitment.

However, officials maintain the UI has a strong program that attracts a variety of students.

The 2012 Open Doors Report was released Monday, ranking the top 25 schools attracting foreign students, among other lists. The Institute of International Education publishes the Open Doors Report each year based on statistical surveys of campuses regarding international students in the United States.

Elena Osinskaya, the manager of languages and initiatives in the Division of World Languages, Literature, and Culture, said the UI has a strong program with globally minded students, staff, and faculty, but she wasn’t surprised the university didn’t make the top 25.

“My personal view is we need to participate in international programs and events more often,” she said.

UI officials spend roughly $130,000 on international recruitment each year, and UI President Sally Mason and a group of university administrators went on a trip to Asia this past summer — that cost nearly the same amount — for fundraising efforts.

Osinskaya said many other schools are larger and have more funding in order to grow their programs, but such initiatives as International Education Week help draw attention to the UI International Programs and can help grow the UI’s program.

International Education Week is a celebration of international-education programs that began in 2000; it is celebrated by more than 100 schools across the country. The UI International Programs will host a variety of events all week to celebrate. Monday’s event was an Adopt a Foreign Language Fair, hosted by the UI Division of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.

UI graduate student Asma Ben Romdhane, a teaching assistant in Arabic, hosted a table at the Adopt a Language Fair on Monday. She said she thinks the UI has a lot of diversity on campus.

“It’s like having a tiny world in a small city,” she said.

However, she echoed Osinskaya’s belief, and she was not too surprised the UI’s is not in the top 25 for attracting international students.

“Iowa [City] is a small city and isn’t really famous,” she said. “We have great programs, but I think we need to have more advertisement about the programs. I think we really need more support and more funding.”

The UI was listed in one ranking based on institutional type in the Open Doors Report. The UI landed 37th out of the top 40 doctorate institutions with 3,436 total international students for 2011-12.

Downing Thomas, the dean of International Programs, said the UI’s program is strong and benefits both international and domestic students.

“The University of Iowa strives to prepare students for success upon graduation, and one of the realities students face in these times is an increasingly interconnected world, a world that offers tremendous opportunities but also great challenges,” he wrote in an email. “A graduate who can communicate effectively in different languages and understand different cultures and ways of thinking is a step ahead when entering the workforce or pursuing additional education.”

He said the UI leaves a lasting impression on students from abroad and from the United States, and he considers this to be a testament to the UI’s programs and campus life.

Currently, the UI has 3,571 international scholars and students.

Will Cai, the Organization for the Active Support of International Students president and a Chinese international student, said the UI has a very diverse campus. The university’s celebrating International Education Week will bring positive attention to the school’s programs, he believes.

“Having a week like this is definitely going to emphasize the importance of international education which is beneficial to all international students and domestic students who want to study abroad,” he said.


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