Iowa exceeds national rate of foreign students

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By Emily Schettler, The Press-Citizen

International students at the University of Iowa spent more than $83 million in the state last year, according to a report released recently by an international education association.

Nationwide, foreign students spent $20.3 billion during the 2010-2011 school year.

NAFSA: Association of Educators produced the financial analysis using enrollment figures compiled by the Institute of International Education.

According to 2011 Open Doors report released by the institute Monday, overall enrollment of foreign students at Iowa colleges and universities increased by 7.8 percent last school year. Nationally, that number grew by 5.7 percent to more than 214,000 students.

“We, like I think many schools, had a good enrollment of international students,” said Scott King, director of the UI International Student & Scholar Services.

UI has exceeded the national pace, with enrollment of foreign students increasing about 15 percent last fall and another 16 percent this fall.

This fall, UI is home to 3,463 international undergraduate, graduate and professional students, and recent graduates on a post-graduate appointment, according to preliminary census numbers.

According to the Open Doors report, Iowa State University had the most international students of any Iowa institution last school year with 3,631.

UI was second followed by the University of Northern Iowa, Drake University in Des Moines and Kirkwood Community College.

Bob Downer, a member of the Iowa state Board of Regents from Iowa City, said the increasing number of international students is a good way to compensate for the shrinking number of Iowa high school graduates.

“We do have a shrinking pool of high school graduates in Iowa, and if we can augment enrollment in this way, I think that’s a positive for everyone,” Downer said.

A majority of the students, at UI and nationwide, are from China, but King said the school has increased its recruitment efforts in other parts of the world.

King said UI spends about $150,000 a year on travel and publications as part of its international recruitment.

“We’ve been doing some very active international recruitment,” King said. “This year we’re doing minimal in China because we’re really trying to diversify the population. We’re really pushing for more students from India, and we would like to see more undergraduates from the Middle East.”

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