TOPEKA, Kan. — Students from India are the latest target in Washburn University President Jerry Farley’s efforts to attract more international students to the school’s campus in Topeka.
Farley and Washburn director of international programs Baili Zhang recently spent six days in India working to form relationships with Indian universities and to persuade some students from that country to go to college in Topeka.
This effort comes after Farley’s four trips to China helped persuade more than 70 Chinese students to attend Washburn.
“We think international education is important,” says Farley. “We think international student exchange is important to provide our students with a different perspective of the world and to provide the opportunity for students from other countries to learn about us.”
Farley’s third visit to India included stops in three cities connected with five universities. The university signed an agreement to become partners with Symbiosis International University and a limited agreement with two Indian recruiting firms to help market Washburn. He also interviewed two students who will enroll in Washburn’s master’s of business administration program in the fall.
“They recognize that education, as does China, is the way to economic prosperity,” Farley says. “They look at our model. That’s what we did in this country. The more educated people we have, the better the jobs are. And they see that.”
Washburn currently has around 200 international students on campus, including only one from India. It sends 100 to 200 abroad each year.
“For us, it’s a great way to diversify our student body,” Zhang says. “Students coming from around the world bring their unique cultures and values to share with us. And I think when you share those cultures and values, everyone benefits.”
The goal is to have several dozen students from India at Washburn, although Farley acknowledges that it will take a few years.
“These are bright, bright students,” Farley says. “And the more people we can get to stay in Topeka, the better Topeka is going to be. The more people we can get to stay in Kansas, the better off Kansas is going to be.”