Fewer international students attend U

Lacey Crisp

Marion Pejaire is one of the declining number of foreign students studying in the United States.

While some blame the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as one reason for fewer foreign students, others said increased work in getting into the country has scared students away. But the number of University students studying abroad has increased, said Jodi Malmgren, director of advising at the Learning Abroad Center.

She said that for the 2002-03 school year, approximately 1,300 undergraduate and graduate students studied abroad. That number increased in 2003-04 to more than 1,600 students, she said.

“For most countries, it is not as difficult for U.S. students to (go there to) study,” Malmgren said.

She said changes in visas have made it more difficult for foreign students to come here.

Malmgren said that between 20 percent and 25 percent of University graduates study abroad during their tenures.

Pejaire said the terrorist attacks did not keep her from coming from southern France.

“Since Sept. 11, it’s more and more difficult to come in the U.S.,” Pejaire said. “Your (U.S.) government is very worried about exchange students who could decide to stay in the U.S. and may prepare (terrorist) attacks.”

Pejaire said the most difficult part of coming to the University was getting her student visa.

“The people working at the American embassy have not really been nice with me,” Pejaire said. “They were brutal in the way they had to speak, because they don’t really like to give visas for the U.S.”

Pejaire said security issues didn’t cross her mind.

“I’ve sometimes thought about security here, but I don’t care,” she said. “If we start living with fear, we don’t live anymore.”

Although Pejaire said she will be glad to go back to France at the end of the year, Jen Garret said she hopes to permanently live in the United States.

Garret said she came to the United States from Montpelier, France, for her master’s degree in international business and foreign languages.

“The thought of security never crossed my mind, as well as terrorism,” Garret said, “although a few friends feared that and tried to warn me.”

Garret said she had an easy time getting her visa, even though she had to prove she had enough money to pay for her trip and tuition.

Kay Thomas, International Student and Scholar Services director, said there has been a decrease in international students coming to the United States.

“A lot more (international) students are staying in the U.S., but we have had a roughly 30 percent decrease in (these) students,” Thomas said.

She said the largest number of international students studying at the University was during fall 2001, with 1,010 students.

“Since Sept. 11, we have noticed a decrease in the newly arriving students,” she said.

The numbers were slightly up this year, though, she said.

“Overall, the number of international students has held its own,” Thomas said. “It’s actually up about eight students.”