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Iraqis Latest Recruited International Students to Attend University of Cincinnati

CINCINNATI — Students from Iraq are the latest products of overseas recruiting by the University of Cincinnati, which is building enrollment and revenues with international students.

The first arrivals from that nation join more than 2,600 other international students on the southwest Ohio campus. UC’s international enrollment has jumped 41 percent since 2008. Cincinnati has more than 42,000 students overall.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that UC has sent admissions officers the last two years to a college fair in Iraq’s Kurdish region. Some 30 students have been conditionally admitted.

Recruiting in China has helped bring nearly 1,000 Chinese students to the school. There were 604 students from India enrolled for fall, and 191 from South Korea. Iran ranked 10th among foreign countries with 32 students.

The international students have meant more than $10 million a year to UC.

Ohio State University is among other schools seeing rising numbers of international students. The school reported more than 6,000 on campus in the fall. That’s up from a record two years earlier of nearly 5,000.

University officials say the international students help broaden the educational experience for other students, and also can help build relationships with the United States.

“The universities and I think the State Department’s interest is unusual,” said Jon Weller, UC’s director of international admissions. “We have a unique opportunity to craft the future of Iraq.”

Weller said the school is sensitive about now having an Ohio student lose a spot to international students.

UC’s recruiting network includes two employees in China, one in India and one in Vietnam. UC also pays overseas agencies a commission of 9 percent of net tuition per student for recruiting help.

Admissions officers attend college fairs around the world. An Oct. 11 visit to Iraq led to nearly 200 applicants. The Iraqi government helps students with travel expenses, English training and other costs.

“It’s probably the best way to build bridges,” said Nazanin Tork, a former UC admissions officer who attended two fairs in Iraq.

Zagos Mustafa, 29, is one of the newly arrived Iraqi students. He said it’s been a complicated adjustment, compared to American students who “just have to study.” He’s trying to earn a master’s degree in political science.

“Everything is different here,” Mustafa said. “The banking system is different, transportation is different. Here, they use technology for everything.”

In Iraq, he said, some of his teachers still didn’t have email.

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