CMU looks to increase international student enrollment
Central Michigan University is focusing on gaining more international students and increasing the number of students studying abroad this year.
Increased globalization, an appreciation of different cultures and compensating for CMU’s low enrollment numbers because of fewer Michigan high school graduates contribute to the interest in international student enrollment.
“A greater number of students from international backgrounds add an awareness of global cultures, issues and experiences to the classroom and the campus community,” said Tracy Nakajima, director of international student and scholar services.
International Affairs is working with the College of Graduate Studies and Vice Provost Claudia Douglass to establish recruitment goals and strategies. The university has not yet targeted a precise percentage of how many students are expected, but there are other things that have to be done first, International Recruiter Emily Liu said.
“We are first looking at expanding the number of countries and cultures represented on campus,” Liu said.
This semester, there are approximately 575 international students at CMU.
“Although we are not at our highest enrollment for total students, our new student enrollment has increased for the fall 2012 semester,” Liu said.
Internationalization has always been critical, to not only increase the number of students, but also to bring different perspectives and points of view to CMU.
“In the 10 years that I have been at CMU, we have always wanted an increase in the number of international students on campus,” Nakajima said. “It has always been recognized that they are an important part of the student body and the community.”
The university has always pursued more international students over the years, but now their enrollment is more critical to CMU due to the diminishing amount of Michigan high school graduates.
“It’s also important as the size of Michigan high school classes decline,” Provost Gary Shapiro said during an interview with the Central Michigan Life Editorial Staff. “We want to maintain, or at least moderate, enrollment declines.”
When Liu has been out recruiting internationally, she has begun to notice that students are excited to learn about the programs that CMU has to offer, as well as the services available.
“This combination helps me distinguish the university and attract students who are excited to join the campus,” she said.
Increasing the international student presence has become a campus-wide effort, with academic departments contributing through internationalizing their curriculum and the search for an executive director of the Office of International Affairs.
The number of students studying abroad continues to gain support among administration.
“We have recognized that not everyone is able to (study abroad), so we need to make some efforts to include international aspects in our curriculum,” Shapiro said.
Through the process of reaching out to colleagues abroad, International Affairs has increased the university’s recognition internationally, Liu said.
Shapiro and University President George Ross have contributed by allocating increased resources to recruitment for a more specific focus on international students as well.
“The student body contributes by providing a welcome atmosphere to our current students, thus encouraging word-of-mouth recruitment to friends and family back home,” Liu said.
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