The University is boosting its international recruitment strategies, a diversity effort to counter tightening purse strings and anticipated stagnation of enrollment from its top feeder areas.
Experts said universities target foreign students because many can pay full tuition unlike their American counterparts who increasingly demonstrate higher need for financial assistance due to the recession.
“International students typically don’t get any sort of merit aid,” Beth McMurtrie, senior editor for international news at the Chronicle of Higher Education, said. “I do think it’s one of the key factors.”
Kathryn Napper, the associate vice president and dean for undergraduate admissions, said the University’s push in recent years to attract international students is to both expand into untapped markets and increase campus diversity.
“We’ve done more over the last five or six years, because there are more students coming to the United States,” she said. “We’re looking for a broad range of students, we’re looking for a diverse student body and we’re always looking for the best students to bring to GW.”
More international students have enrolled at GW in recent years than at most other universities. About 12 percent of the University’s 20,654 students were international last year, according to data from the Office of Institutional Research and Planning – more than triple the national average, although large research institutions typically have a stronger international presence, McMurtrie said.
Napper said growing economies in Asia and South America make it more feasible for international students to come to America and attend private four-year institutions like GW.
As college enrollment in its key domestic feeder areas – including the mid-Atlantic coast – stagnate, the University is renewing its efforts to recruit students abroad, Napper said. The University is exploring an expansion of recruitment in South America and India to diversify international applications in the expanding foreign markets.
“We felt that it would be worth our exploring that for a couple years to see if our efforts will pay off. We think it will,” Napper said. “We are always looking for new pockets of students for us to compete.”
Hailing largely from Asia, the 690,923-strong international student population in the U.S. accounted for 3.5 percent of college students at all institutions in America in the 2009-2010 academic year, the latest report by the Institute of International Education showed. China, South Korea and India sent the most international students to the University in 2010, mirroring a national trend.
The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Business consistently attract the most international students, with 551 and 624 total international students in the fall of 2010 respectively.