UK goes global with international student enrollment growth

By Michael Bullard

More international students are coming to UK.

In the past five years, the university has seen an increase in international student enrollment from 169 students to 358 students, said Roger P. Sugarman, planning and assessment director of Institutional Research.

Don Witt, vice provost for Admissions and Registrar, said one reason for the increase has been connections.

Witt said he and his department have worked with the Office of International Affairs are connecting with probable students who are thousands of miles away in more efficient ways than in previous years. One of those ways is recruitment.

UK has sent two domestic recruiters to Shanghai to introduce high school students to what UK has to offer, Witt said.

Zinan Chen, a third-year international student from Beijing who is majoring in math and math economics, said one of the reasons she chose to travel over 9,000 miles to attend UK was because of UK recruiter Audra Cryder.

Chen said she met Cryder at a study abroad fair at her high school in Beijing, and Cryder made her feel like a priority. Cryder introduced her to the university and gave her scholarship information, which would reduce the cost of tuition if she chose to attend UK, Chen said.

She is on a scholarship from the Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment Services.

Chen said she is even more connected with UK and Cryder through means like Facebook.

“I consider her a friend,” Chen said. “We chat from time to time and visit one another during the holidays.”

Other influences on international student growth are programs the university offers to help students adjust to the sudden change.

Groups like the Chinese Student and Scholar Association, which Chen is a part of, is one way for students to link with students of similar backgrounds so they do not feel secluded on campus when they first arrive.

The university does not want language to be a barrier.

Michelle Nordin, student services director in Admissions and Registrar, said students will still be admitted to the university, even if they do not fulfill the requirements of the Test of English as a Foreign Language or the International English Testing System as long as they agree to complete the English as a Second Language Program once on campus.

Smaller changes like mail carriers have also ­contributed to the growth of the international student population on campus.

In the past, the standard postal service was used to send important documents overseas to prospective students, which usually takes four to six weeks.

Now, international officers use DHL for the application process and take full advantage of DHL’s overnight service. Packages are now delivered abroad in two to three days.

Communicating overseas as fast as possible is an important part of gaining more students from around the world, Witt said.

“Our main objective is to make them feel like we’re right in their back door,” Witt said.

Constant e-mails and even personal phone calls are made to help students feel connected to UK even before they arrive to the United States.

“Connecting and building relationships is what the college experience is all about and having a global student body is reflective of a top Institution, and that is UK,” Witt said.