International enrollments on the rise at Eastern Illinois University
Eastern Illinois University has experienced significant growth in the number of international students and graduate students enrolled for the spring 2016 semester.
With an increase of nearly 100 international students this semester, the total number of international students enrolled has exceeded the university’s 2015 record, university officials say.
“I think our growth can be attributed to a few different things,” Kevin Vicker, director of the Office of International Students and Scholars, told the East Central Reporter. “One is the really attractive degree offerings we have here at Eastern, one of which is the Computer Technology master’s degree program -- a program that combines management and information technology. This is a program that’s grown a lot over the past year. In fact, 134 of our new students came for this program.”
Vicker said other programs such as economics, business, kinesiology and sustainable energy have grown as well, and particularly appeal to international students.
“Our students also find us attractive because of the skills they gain for their career," he said. "There’s a great potential in terms of the job market for students when they graduate."
International graduate students have been coming to U.S. schools for years.
A 2015 Open Doors report from the Institute of International Education said that 974,926 international students studied at U.S. colleges and universities in 2014-2015, with 58 percent of those students coming from China, India, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. The same report also revealed that 30,001 to 60,000 of international students enrolled in schools in Illinois.
The Open Doors program provides information about international students and scholars studying or teaching at higher education institutions in the U.S., and is supported by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Vicker said the number of international students at Eastern has more than doubled since he joined the university’s faculty.
“When I arrived in 2011, we had about 150 international students," he said. "Now we have about 380, so that’s quite significant over the past five years -- and our faculty cares a lot about them."
The international student body represents 40 countries, with the vast majority of the students coming from India, Vicker said. Approximately 200 students at Eastern are from India, and the university has seen an increasing number of students from Saudi Arabia, South Korea and many other countries.
“We attract a lot of our international students by word of mouth," Vickers said. "They like our personal approach, our environment, the cost (of education) is reasonable and the cost of living is reasonable. In terms of recruiting strategy, we are working through partnerships with some consultants, and we’ve partnered up with international universities. They give us exposure that way as well. So a combination of all those factors, I think, has contributed to our growth."
The international student population adds to the diversity at Eastern. University officials reported in a press release that nearly 25 percent of the university’s students are minorities. The overall enrollment at Eastern has decreased by 644 students this semester, but that can be attributed to the 643 degrees awarded to graduating students in December.
Officials say that not only is the growth in international and graduate students encouraging, but the number of out-of-state students has increased as well. Eastern established a program in 2011 allowing students from states bordering Illinois to pay the same tuition rate as students from Illinois.
In U.S. News and World Report’s annual college rankings, Eastern ranked at No. 5 among the Midwest’s top public regional universities in 2016.
In the magazine’s 2016 edition of “Best Colleges,” Eastern ranked at 30 among all Midwestern regional universities offering a full range of undergraduate majors and master’s programs, making Eastern the highest ranking public university in Illinois on the list.
The region includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
The deadline for fall applications at Eastern is May 15.