Fordham’s Growing Number of International Students is a National Trend

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(DARRYL YU/THE OBSERVER ARCHIVES)

By TERRY ZENG
Copy Editor

The number of international students at Fordham College at Lincoln Center, Fordham College at Rose Hill and Fordham College at Westchester has doubled in the past five years. This gradual increase of international student is not a trend limited to Fordham, but a national trend across most universities in the U.S.

According to the Fordham Factbook on international student population and the Open Doors report on total student enrollment in Fall 2015, 2,133 international students constituted 13.9 percent of the total student population of 15,286. In Fall 2010,only 884 international students constituted five percent of the total student population of 15,158.

The enlargement of the international student population is not a trend limited to Fordham, but also a growth seen in universities nationwide. According to the Open Doors report published by the Institute of International Education, the international student population in the U.S. increased from 723,277 in 2010 to 974,926 in 2015.

Salvatore Longarino, Director of the Office for International Services (OIS), said that the increase in international student population is due to a few reasons. As a Jesuit institution embracing the concept of Comprehensive Internationalization (CI) in which the presence of international students is vital, Fordham strives to reach a percentage of students from abroad like that of its chosen institutions. Before 2014, its international student ratio was below that of its aspirant, peer and other Jesuit universities, but recently, its ratio reached 14 percent, a standard percentage shared by many universities.

“As a Jesuit institution, with our global principle and mission to ‘prepare students to lead in a global society’, having a five percent ratio would be unacceptable,” Longarino said. “[The increase] was not ‘drastic,’ it was just ‘adjusting.’”

Fordham’s Continuous University Strategic Planning (CUSP) is a strategic framework adjusted to current opportunities and challenges for the thriving of the University’s future. The committee recently drafted its global engagement goals in Section IV to broaden Fordham’s global perspective by “Substantially increas[ing] the number and diversity of Fordham’s international undergraduate students as well as the resources necessary for them to thrive on campus.”

“We wish to increase the numbers, but we also plan to serve them and have them thrive,” Longarino said. “This increase also serves our CI, which also enhances ‘native’ and domestic student’s experiences in their academic and professional career.”

The increase in international students in the recent years, however, is also due to the rising number of applicants from abroad, according to Monica Esser, associate director for International Admission, and Patricia Peek, Ph.D., director of Undergraduate Admission, who provided statistics.

The total number of undergraduate international student applications for the incoming class of 2020 is 6,331, a 19 percent increase compared to class of 2019. The increased number of applicants allowed Fordham to select more highly qualified students.

“[It is] much easier to obtain information and make an application from overseas now (with such wide spread internet access) than it was 20 years ago,” Esser said. “You may not be able to envision this, but pre-internet, all information and application materials from overseas had to travel by snail mail. Technology has aided this process and made overseas study far more accessible to current students and made it easier for Fordham to share information about our opportunities.”

Student visa approval rate by the US Department of State has also grown over the past 20 years, according to Esser.

“When I worked at another school years ago, our undergraduate applicants had about a one in five chance of obtaining a student visa to come to the USA,” Esser said. “Currently at Fordham the undergraduate visa approval rate is 100 percent.”

The growth of international students brings Fordham and the U.S. positive economic impacts. With 72 percent of the international students receiving the majority of their funds from sources outside the U.S., they contributed more than $30.5 billion to the U.S. economy, according to Open Doors’ data from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“I am always positive to positive impacts,” Longarino responded to the economic factor. “International Education (international students coming here to the US) is one of the largest export businesses [at] $30 billion per year for the US, three billion dollars per year for New York State.”

While they help expose Fordham’s global presence and bring economic benefits to the university, for Paul Levinson, Ph. D, professor at the Department of Communication and Media Studies, international students also add global value to his classes.

“International students in general, I am very happy with them in my classes, because they added different cultural perspectives and I think it’s great for the other students in the classroom,” Levinson said. “It’s a good thing for the professors, so we welcome international students in our classes.”