Int’l student population grows by 16 percent

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UI’s freshman class matches 2010 record

By Emily Schettler, The Iowa City Press-Citizen

Freshman enrollment at the University of Iowa is “right on target” this fall, school officials said Wednesday upon the release of fall census counts for students. This year’s freshman class remained steady with last year’s record-setting enrollment among first-year students.

This fall, UI welcomed 4,565 first-time freshmen, eight more than last year, when the number of new freshmen increased by nearly 500 students from the year before.

The university has 30,893 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled this fall, up 0.2 percent, or 68 students, from 30,825 students last fall.

Iowa State University saw a 4.2 percent increase in its student population this fall and set a new record for enrollment. In Ames, the total student population increased by 1,025 students to 29,887. ISU also saw its largest freshman class — 5,048 students.

At the University of Northern Iowa, enrollment numbers decreased slightly. UNI’s total student population dropped 0.2 percent, or 33 students, to 13,168. Its undergraduate population increased by 15 students, but the number of graduate students fell by 48, according to enrollment counts released Wednesday by the Iowa state Board of Regents.

In Iowa City, UI officials championed the university’s growing diversity; 14.2 percent of the freshman class identify themselves as minorities, up from 12.6 percent last fall.

Iowa residents accounted for 45.2 percent of freshmen this year. Domestic nonresident students made up another 44.2 percent of the freshman class, and international students accounted for 10.6 percent.

Heavy recruiting practices by UI, particularly in other states and abroad, led to last year’s record enrollment, said Michael Barron, UI director of admissions. The school had planned to grow its freshmen class by 100 students each year for five years, but instead saw growth equal to that last year.

Barron said that, for now, school officials plan to maintain the original growth plan.

“This is where we want to be; we just got there earlier,” Barron said. “Until the university collectively decides something different, we’re going to stay the course. The goal, unless it’s changed for us, is to maintain what we have.”

The overall undergraduate population at UI increased by 1.8 percent, or 388 students, from 21,177 to 21,565 students. Barron said there are several factors contributing to the increase, including an increase in student retention in recent years. UI had a record retention rate last year, when 86 percent of students who entered in 2009 returned to UI last fall. This year’s retention rate remained steady with 85.6 percent of students who were freshmen in 2010 enrolling again in 2011.

Some of the university’s largest gains came among international students, which now make up about 10 percent of the overall student population.

Overall, the number of international students grew 16 percent this fall, from 2,825 in 2010 to 3,277 this year, said Scott King, director of the UI International Student & Scholar Services.

King said part of the increase is because of the consistent interest among students from other countries in receiving an education in the U.S. The University of Iowa also has stepped up its recruiting efforts in other countries by attending college fairs and hosting education advisers from other countries on the UI campus. He said one of the greatest factors working in the school’s favor is promotion by word of mouth.

“That’s absolutely number one,” King said. “Students recruit their friends. We have really good retention, so we’re retaining those students, and having them tell their friends this is a good place to study.”

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