CSUN placed sixth in a national survey from last November that ranked institutions of higher learning with the largest number of international students, according to the Institute of International Education.
The 2005 Open Doors survey showed CSUN ranking sixth in the nation among master’s level institutions – institutions that offer master’s degrees but do not offer Ph.D.s – hosting students from around the world, which is a slight drop from last year when CSUN ranked fourth, said Mary Baxton, associate director of Admissions and Records. She added the drop is a result of tougher competition from other universities, rather than CSUN losing members of its foreign student population.
“We didn’t drop because we took in less (international students), we dropped because other universities took in more,” Baxton said.
When ranking all the universities and colleges in the U.S., CSUN has a more modest ranking coming in at 106 of the institutions with 1,000 or more international students. USC has the highest international student population in the country with 6,846 and UCLA is ranked ninth with 4,217.
Another contributing factor to the drop in number of international students shown in the survey was that all of the international students at CSUN were not accounted for, she said. Baxton said admissions and records recently switched the computer program they use to keep track of the number of students enrolled with an F-1 visa and all of them did not get included in the IIE survey. The survey showed 1,343 international students enrolled at CSUN 2004-2005, however, Baxton said she estimates the number to be more than 1,600 when counting the Distance Learning and ESL students.
CSUN has managed to increase its international student population since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and will try to continue that trend in the future by following a 10-step plan provided by the IIE and adding some of its own aspects to it, she said.
“The steps required also (to) take a mix of passion and dedication to liking international education and having an appreciation for international students and wanting to see that healthy exchange of incoming students and outgoing students,” Baxton said.
Carol McAllister, assistant director at admissions and records, said she is flying to Beijing, China, in February for a big recruiting fair. Additionally Baxton said she has been on the same type of trip to Japan in the past.
Asia is the largest represented group in CSUN’s international student population that features students from 87 different countries, and a lot of the recruiting overseas has been done in that part of the world, according to a CSUN Admissions and Records report. Japan had the highest number of international students on campus with about 325 students during fall 2005 followed by Korea with 120 students, according to the report.
“We have focused on Asia because of the Pacific Rim connection of our geographical location of the university, the natural draw is from the Asian area and that’s where we have the largest part of our international students,” Baxton said. “We make decisions about what fairs we want to attend that we feel will benefit us the most and attract the most students.”
After gaining the interest of a prospective student, Baxton said Admissions and Records tries to work with speed and accuracy to assist them with the admissions process as much as possible.
Baxton added they feel obligated to make sure the school has viable programs that have value to the student because of the high tuition they pay.
Last year there were over 565,000 international students enrolled in the United States at a higher education institution, which was about one percent lower than the year before, according to the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers: Association of International Educators. The sixth year in a row the U.S. has had over 500,000 international students, according to NAFSA.
International students contributed about $13.3 billion to the U.S. economy last year in tuition, living expenses and related costs, according to NAFSA.
“The cultural perspective they bring and just be able to share that is huge,” McAllister added. “To be able to be in a classroom with students from anywhere in the (world) and be able to talk to them and share their ideas, I think that’s wonderful.”
CSUN has not seen a decrease in international student enrollment, said Baxton, something that is not echoed on the national level.
A contributing factor in the decline of international students in the U.S. is higher tuition costs, difficulties obtaining a student visa and competition for students with other countries, according to an IIE report.
Baxton said there is a new shift to a three-year bachelor’s degree in Europe called the Bologna Process, which will make it harder for American universities to compete for students there because their education is shorter but holds the same weight.
California has the biggest number of international students with 75,032.
Baxton said the reason CSUN has been able to maintain a high number of international students is because they work hard and are passionate about it.
“Some schools frankly don’t have the time and energy for that,” she said. “They don’t care about it, they don’t think about it and that’s no negative reflection, that’s simply an honest accounting?they don’t always feel the same way.”
Johan Mengesha can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.