Despite difficult economic conditions and tighter immigration rules, Colorado State University continues to see growth in both the number of foreign students and in the number of Colorado State students choosing to study abroad.
Foreign student enrollment and study abroad programs at Colorado colleges and universities are topics that will be discussed at a press briefing hosted by the Institute of International Education, or IIE, on Nov. 18 in Denver. Colorado State Provost Peter Nicholls will participate in the event, which will highlight findings from "Open Doors 2003," the annual report on international education released by the IIE.
Colorado State’s record number of foreign students is unusual in an environment where other large Colorado universities are seeing declines in foreign student enrollment. The increase at Colorado State is something Jerome Bookin-Weiner, executive director of the university’s International Programs, attributes to the strength of Colorado State’s academic programs as well as to service, recruiting and graduate student funding. There are 950 foreign students attending Colorado State for fall 2003-up from 920 last year and 782 five years ago.
"Particularly after September 11, we have recognized the length of time the visa process now requires and we continue to work very hard at providing a welcoming environment for students," Bookin-Weiner said. "Our admissions staff and International Programs staff have been extraordinarily service oriented during the last few years-responding quickly, guiding students through the admissions process and expediting immigration documents to admitted students. The volunteers at the Fort Collins International Center and word of mouth also have been important in recruiting students."
The IIE study also examined study abroad programs and reported that study abroad is more popular than ever at universities and colleges across the country. Colorado State follows this national trend, with 519 students studying abroad in 2002-2003, up from 477 students studying abroad in 2001-2002.
The number of U.S. university-level students receiving credit for study abroad in 2001/02 increased 4.4 percent from the previous year, reaching a record total of 160,920, according to the IIE report. Campus professionals have reported increased interest in study abroad in each of the years following September 11, according to IIE surveys conducted in fall 2001 and 2002.
Nicholls said the increase in both international students and participation in study abroad is critical to the continuing vitality of the university. He cited several academic programs, including Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering, that are strengthened by large numbers of international scholars. He said numerous relationships between Colorado State faculty and researchers around the world are made possible by international students. He also pointed to the invaluable insight international students and study abroad participants can give to the perspectives, cultures and mores of people in other countries. International students also make a difference in the local economy.
"The economic impact that Colorado State University’s foreign students have on this state will be more than $20 million for 2003-2004," said Bookin-Weiner. "However, the impact international students and the study abroad program have is much more than economic-it’s an impact that makes a tremendous contribution to the quality of education our students receive and to our students’ preparation for their lives and careers."
The IIE report is published in conjunction with International Education Week, which is celebrated across the country during the week of Nov. 17. Colorado State is marking International Education Week with the university’s 50th International Fest, a series of events that showcase the school’s rich history of involvement with international programs. For a complete International Fest schedule, visit www.international.colostate.edu.
Findings from the IIE report will be discussed at a press briefing Nov. 17 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., as well as at the Nov. 18 Denver briefing. For the complete report, visit www.opendoors.iienetwork.org.