International student numbers increase, recruitment drives efforts

The Daily News

The number of international students has increased at Ball State as the university pushes to recruit students from certain countries across the world. 

In Fall 2009, 500 international students were on campus, said Scott Cantrell, director of international student services. Now, there are 678 international students.

This fall has seen higher numbers of students from countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and South Korea, Cantrell added.

“There are two reasons [we recruit],” Cantrell said. “The basis of that is ‘can they pay their education?’ And the second thing is, even if they are able to pay the money, ‘can they get the education cheaper in their home country?’”

With the rising numbers, it is crucial to note the importance of having international students on campus, said Debra Goens, foreign student adviser and immigration specialist. 

“They bring knowledge about the world because we are pretty much isolated here in Indiana,” she said. “It brings the world to Ball State because a lot of our students aren’t going to be traveling the world.”

China is the leading country that international students come from, Cantrell said. Not just anybody can go to college there, he added. The process is difficult and students must score high enough on tests throughout their schooling prior to college. 

“There is a rising middle class that is able to pay for it, and they are not interested in expanding their higher education, so they’re going to go somewhere,” Cantrell said. “Those are the two keys that you are going to look for when bringing a specific country in.”

Xinyue Deng, a student from China who will study telecommunications in the spring, came to America to study because of the education system.

“The education in America is very good,” she said. “The major is really good here at Ball State; it’s really famous.”

Saudi Arabia is seeing more students on campus for a similar reason. 

“Saudi Arabia has exactly the same thing, but they are being supported by their government,” Cantrell said. “Almost every Saudi student we have has a full scholarship from their government.”

About 10 years ago, the number of students from Saudi Arabia was about the 10th highest, and now it’s within the top five, Cantrell said.

Other countries such as Afghanistan are seeing more students because of a grant relationship with the university. Afghanistan has about $5 million to $6 million in grants coming from the country, Cantrell said. 

On the other hand, South Korea sees more students come because of the country’s relationship with the United States.

“They want to send those students to know about the United States and to learn and say ‘I went to school with some South Korean kids, and they’re nice kids and we want to support them,’” Cantrell said. “It’s an international relations thing.”

With the difference in culture, the Rinker Center for International Programs provides the assistance students need in order to adjust to America, such as immigration information and learning the laws.

“Here, when the police stop you, you stay in your car,” Goens said. “In some countries, it is proper to get out. Can you imagine what a policeman would do if one of them got out?” 

Deng said she hopes her experience abroad will help her to think differently when she returns. 

“I hope that I can learn different things and to think differently in America because in China the education is totally different,” she said. “It can open my horizons. I can really feel different after I go back to China.” 

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