PORTLAND Ore. – Oregon’s seven universities expect the largest number of international students ever when classes begin this week.
Total enrollment at the universities will likely top 100,000, a record, The Oregonian reports. That’s 20 percent growth over four years.
The international student population jumped 45 percent in four years. There are now about 5,600 international students at Oregon universities.
It’s in the interest of the schools to bring in foreign students—high nonresident tuition helps offset cuts the state has made during the Great Recession. International students pay three times what resident students pay for tuition.
The universities argue it’s not all about the money, though. Officials said they also want more international students so they can expose all students to other cultures.
“Our students are going to be working in a global economy,” said Oregon State University provost Sabah Randhawa. “We can create an environment where they do spend time with international students that really enriches their education.”
Oregon State wants to boost its international enrollment from last year’s 6.5 percent to 10 percent, Randhawa said.
They’ll do it in part by recruiting, something that’s been also keeping their counterparts at other Oregon universities busy.
Portland State University President Wim Wiewel recruited in Indonesia this summer. Oregon State has contracted with a British company, to help it attract students around the world. The University of Oregon over the last year sent recruiters to China, Japan, South Korea, the Middle East and Mexico, said Roger Thompson, vice provost for enrollment management.
“This year we’re adding India to the mix,” Thompson said.
Oregon draws a large number of students from China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Japan. The U.S. total for students from abroad hit 691,000 last fall.
The University of Oregon expects international student enrollment to reach 2,000 this year, making the 2011 class the university’s most diverse ever.
Making all those students feel at home is another priority: Oregon State University, which expects international enrollment to surpass 1,800 this fall, is opening a 365-bed dormitory, half for international students, with classrooms and laboratories for a program that helps international students adjust.