In the midst of the anti-immigration rhetoric in the U.S., Ohio University is taking initiatives to create a more international-friendly environment on campus.
As laws around immigration tighten, the U.S. is seeing a decline in student immigration as well. Incoming international student enrollment rates across the U.S. have declined an average 7 percent in fall 2017, according to a survey by the Institute of International Education.
The annual tuition and fees for an international student to study at OU is $21,632, which is nearly double the price an in-state student pays.
“The cost of tuition will drive the decisions of many parents,” Lorna Jean Edmonds, vice provost for the Office of Global Affairs and International Studies, said.
Edmonds said the parents of domestic and international students would want their children to remain in state and pay half the fees rather than attending an out-of-state institution.
The stark price difference coupled with heightened scrutiny of foreign visitors may deter international students from pursuing a degree in the U.S., but OU is adamant in recruiting more international students, Edmonds said.
“I personally like universities that are a nice mix … of people from around the country and around the world,” she said. “That’s a really healthy story, but that’s not what you see here (at OU).”
At his inauguration, OU President Duane Nellis stressed the need for a diverse campus. To achieve those goals, the administration has already started fueling the process.
“Typically, international students do not have access to as many options as domestic students,” Dianne Cahill, interim director of International Student and Faculty Services, said regarding scholarship options available in the university. “They are not going to be eligible for financial aid like … domestic students.”
The administration has shown a growing interest in establishing a scholarship endowment for international students. Financial endowments are monetary assets donated to the university, which can be invested in specific scholarship programs.
“There have been motivations to build an endowment for scholarships for international students,” Cahill said. “But we are not there yet.”
In an effort to receive financial aid upon applying to the university, all students are automatically entered into the pool for any financial aid programs and scholarships, Cahill said. The university also provides information on its website for other avenues such as EducationUSA and eduPASS for international students to attain money.
In the year 2016, there were 1,496 international students enrolled on campus. There has been a drop compared to the year 2014 when there were 1,860 international students enrolled.
Edmonds believes the decrease in the number of international students at OU is a result of the lack of recruitment strategies geared toward international students. To tackle the challenge of recruiting more international students, OU’s department of Enrollment Management and the Office of Global Affairs and International Studies have armed themselves with strategies to create a diverse environment on campus.
The university has also partnered with Grok Global, an organization that helps higher education institutions reach out to prospective students. The China-based organization will help OU in its effort to recruit students from China by helping the university build marketing strategies. They are taking a “family-oriented and student-supportive” approach to appeal to Chinese people.
The results of their current efforts in China will inspire their initiation for similar projects in other countries. Edmonds said the university is especially interested in launching efforts to attract students from Vietnam.
“Ohio (University) really values a student-centered approach and we want to have the same approach while recruiting international students,” Edmonds said. “We are taking a different tact in that when we meet with families and students, we are actually thinking about them as our future alumni at that point. We want them to experience that Bobcat feeling.”