International student enrollment continues to grow and expand
Published: Monday, September 23, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 13:09
Since 2006, the international student population at A-State has been growing steadily, increasing diversity and cultural awareness on campus.
Although the number of international students at the University of Arkansas, the largest university in Arkansas, is greater by about 100 compared to A-State, they make up only 4.6 percent of U of A’s total student population, compared to A-State’s 7.5 percent.
The recent surge in international students is due in large part to active recruitment efforts being made by the university.
According to Nakeli Hendrix, a Hawaii native and immigration specialist in the office of international programs, A-State participates in recruitment fairs all over the world. At these fairs, multiple schools set up booths to advertise what they have to offer prospective students.
In addition to this, the university fosters agreements with regional representatives across the globe who promote A-State and help interested students navigate the application process.
With around 900 international students enrolled this semester, the recruitment endeavors seem to be successful.
According to the 2012-2013 Factbook, the vast majority of A-State’s international students come from China, Saudi Arabia, and Japan; however, the campus plays host to students from at least 60 countries around the world.
“I think our department tries to get a diverse population. Certain countries will have more resources to get to come here, but we welcome everyone that wants to join us for their studies,” Hendrix said.
Hendrix would like to see the program continue to flourish as A-State works to improve services for international students.
“We provide airport shuttles to campus free of charge, shopping shuttles, and plan fun things on campus to help them get connected,” Hendrix said. “We had a welcome party that was very well attended. Coming up, we’ll have an international tent set up at the homecoming tailgate to introduce students to football. It’s an exciting, very American tradition that a lot of them have probably never experienced.”
As a 2013 graduate of the international business program and former student worker in the office of international programs, Camille Allensworth of West Memphis is well equipped to help meet the needs of international students. She now serves as the administration specialist in the office.
After traveling abroad herself, Allensworth is more aware of the challenges international students face when it comes to adjusting to life in a new country.
“It helps to know what it’s like to be a foreigner. It poses lots of challenges. Not just language barriers, but cultural differences and getting to know what the rest of the world has to offer,” Allensworth said. “We’re doing our best to try and make them feel more at home here.”
Allensworth encourages domestic students to reach out and help show international students exactly what our university and the South have to offer.
“Sometimes people here aren’t the most welcoming, but interacting with international students can only make you more cultured,” she said. “It only benefits the students who are open to letting it benefit them.”
Whether they’re here to spend a semester or their entire college career, internationals are an integral part of the student population. Allensworth feels that domestic students have a lot to gain by intermingling with international students.
“It’s important to have diversity. Everything is global now, so being able to work with people from different countries is so beneficial,”Allensworth said. “I can’t think of an area where it wouldn’t be useful.”