Rise in U grad interest leads

by Elizabeth Giorgi

The University’s efforts to attract international students have put them ahead of the national average.

The Council of Graduate Schools announced Thursday that international graduate applications in American universities have increased 11 percent this academic year.

The University is seeing an even more substantial application increase at 25 percent, said graduate admissions director Andrea Scott.

The increase is credited to a more positive perception of America, the easing of visa regulations and decreased competition from countries such as Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, she said.

The competition has eased since the visa regulations in those countries have become more similar to the United States’ as well as the increasing costs of their universities, Scott said.

Timing also seems to be playing a role in the improved perception of the United States as a potential destination for students, she said.

“I think that we are far enough removed from (Sept. 11, 2001), that students are feeling more comfortable applying in the United States,” Scott said.

The Council of Graduate Schools also announced applications are up in the United States by 23 percent from India and 21 percent from China this academic year.

Scott said the University is seeing an even greater increase in applications from those countries.

As of March, applications from India had increased 53 percent and 37 percent from China, she said.

Graduate and Professional Student Assembly Executive Vice President Taqee Khaled said the increase can be seen as a positive reinforcement of the University’s realignment plan to become one of the top three public research institutions in the world.

Khaled said international students’ knowledge benefits the campus.

“It is important to have multinational enrollment,” he said.

Kay Thomas, International Student and Scholar Services director, said she was overwhelmed with interest and questions from potential students on her recruiting trip in Asia.

The Asian population increasingly is aware and interested in the University because of the programs offered and the high quality of education they can expect to receive here, she said.

“We have a really dynamite product – a really good education,” Thomas said.

Despite the increase in applications, Scott said it is too early to tell whether the recruitment efforts are the source of the success.

“Until students are actually here and enroll, we don’t know how successful (the University) has been,” she said.

Kathleen Sellew, recruitment committee member and associate director in the Office of International Programs, said the focus of the University’s efforts needs to shift.

“We are encouraged by the increase in applications, but our task now is to work with students who are admitted to encourage them to attend the University of Minnesota,” she said.