U ventures overseas to recruit

Elizabeth Giorgi

Recruiting students to the University requires more than just asking.

For the first time in University history, the school is sending recruiters to countries around the world to attract international graduate and undergraduate students. Recent trips to Turkey and Beijing are the primary reason many campus officials are hoping to see increased international student enrollment.

International enrollment decreased by 22 percent in 2002-03, and by 16 percent in 2003-04, said Andrea Scott, Graduate School department director.

The decrease in international student applications has led International Student and Scholar Services, the Office of International Student Programs, and undergraduate and graduate admissions faculty to begin preparing a plan to reverse the trend.

The decrease in applications initially was attributed to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but another contributing factor has been increased competition from Canadian and European schools, Scott said.

The recent 10-day trip to Turkey spanned four cities and five days at convention centers, she said.

The Turkish American Student Association met with International Student and Scholar Services before the trip and gave input on how to make the University more appealing to students in Turkey, said Erkan Tuzel, a physics graduate student and the Turkish American Student Association president.

Tuzel said the University is appealing because of its diversity and large campus.

Scott said the Office of International Programs guided the decision to go to Turkey. It was considered an exploratory trip because there is potential for student and faculty exchange, she said.

“The success (of the trip) will be determined by how many applications (the University) receives for the fall,” she said.

Kathleen Sellew, associate director in the Office of International Programs, said that in looking at academic mobility and education trends, University officials saw Turkey as a possibility for a visiting location.

Turkey sends a large number of undergraduate students to the United States to study, she said, and because the country is strong economically, it can afford to send students abroad.

The University is attractive to many students for its variety of programs, but the school can’t rely on receiving applications based on that alone, she said.

“It takes more than one trip (to a country), so you have to create a presence and relationship with locations in these countries to get results,” Sellew said. “It requires a coordinated plan.”

The University also decided to visit China this year. In July, the group attended a recruiting fair in Beijing, she said.

“We decided on China because the U of M has very strong ties to China because of our China Center,” she said, “and so we felt that we had strength there.”

Targeting certain locations with publications and having strong alumni networks in these countries helps to keep the University competitive, she said.

“Internationalization is important and there is a cultural and international experience for international students on campus,” Sellew said.

University students benefit from the international perspective as well, she said, which is one of many reasons to have more international students on campus.