International Student Enrollment Declines
September 8, 2006 2:01 AM
The numbers for international student enrollment are down right now at SF State, but the director of the Office of International Programs thinks the university has seen the worst of times in terms of interest and enrollment levels.
“We are confident, and working to stop the freefall and keep the campus an internationalized community,” program director Dr. Yenbo Wu said. “Bringing international students in can only help and benefit us.”
The total number of international students for spring 2006 was 1,858, a drop of 158 students from the fall 2005 semester. The peak time for enrollment was, not coincidently, the fall 2001 semester, when SF State had 2,566 international students.
Jo Volkert, the associate vice president of Enrollment Planning & Management, said one of the main reasons for the international enrollment decrease is the difficulty in post 9/11 America in obtaining an F-1, non-resident, international visa.
Another factor in the declining enrollment, Volkert said, is that countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia are making concerted efforts to attract international students who would otherwise attend an American university.
But OIP is working to attract exchange students.
“Staff members are traveling to other countries to inform international students the benefits of SF State,” Volkert said.
In fact, Wu recently returned from a trip to China and India, where he visited some colleges and universities.
For some international students, there is also the pressure of having to perform at a high academic level in order to meet the requirements of their financial sponsors.
Two international exchange students from Germany, Christoph Bornkessel, 25, and Fabian Jung, 24, are full-time business majors who are visiting from the University of Applied Sciences in Wursburg.
The students have a financial supporter back in Germany who is paying their tuition and boarding fees because they were not able to set up an exchange with two SF State students.
“We have to take all business classes, and we have to do well and pass all our exams,” Jung said. “If we don’t get the credits, then we will have to pay back our sponsor the tuition fees and pay for our plane flight home.”
The total cost for an international student at SF State paying two semesters’ tuition, fees, and room and board is slightly less than $22,000. That’s not including money for textbooks, transportation, health insurance and personal expenses.
Bornkessel and Jung are quick to point out, however, that regardless of the hardships they might encounter as international exchange students at SF State, the experiences they have had meeting new students and faculty have been very positive.
Stephane Fondement, 28, an exchange student at SF State from Paris who is studying business and marketing, said the adjustment has been relatively easy. Fondement said part of his comfort level is due to the faculty members, whom he says are very easy to speak with and pretty much always available.
German exchange student Jung said the OIP has been very helpful making him feel at ease. One particular OIP faculty member, My Yarabinec, the coordinator of the Study Abroad and International Exchange Programs, is someone whom he said has been great.
“Mr. Yarabinec has gone out of his way to make us feel welcome by showing us the city, and even having a picnic with us at Grace Cathedral Park,” Jung said. “He didn’t have to do that, but he did.”
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