Growth in Chinese students helps keep GW on pace to meet foreign enrollment goals

The number of undergraduate students from China shot up by 20 percent this year, continuing a steady clip of growth that allows GW to keep up with its international enrollment goals.

Surges in Chinese students could help to carry the University to its goal to enroll 15 percent of all undergraduates from other countries by the end of the decade, doubling its current ratio.

Reaching that bar could happen even more quickly than expected, Provost Steven Lerman said, as the University expands its recruitment around the world. He said as GW creates a strong brand in certain countries, recruiting happens more naturally.

“People talk about GW, and they have friends go to GW, high schools get interested in GW. So I actually think it will be actually easy to sustain and perhaps grow even faster,” Lerman said.

But expanding GW’s reach past China is a bigger challenge, Lerman said.

Now, growth is mostly concentrated in that country. About 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students are from China this year, skyrocketing from 568 three years ago. GW has recruited heavily there, and has seen massive growth in the number of Chinese graduate students in programs like statistics and engineering.

South Korea and India make up the next largest populations, with 298 and 258 students, respectively.

Laurie Koehler, associate provost for enrollment management, said the University has targeted international travel to enhance recruitment efforts to help GW’s international enrollment nearly double since 2007.

The number of international undergraduates overall at the University increased by about 7.1 percent this year, a rate that mirrors the boom in foreign students at colleges across the U.S.

GW enrolled 229 international freshmen this year, bringing the total percent of international undergraduates to 8.8 percent, according to data released last week. Foreign students now make up 17.2 percent of the graduate student population.

Nationally, the number of international students attending U.S. universities rose by 7.2 percent last year, according to the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. For most universities, including GW, the growth helps their bottom lines because most foreign undergraduates do not draw from the financial aid pool,

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