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Rise in number of int'l students reflects national trend

The number of international students — particularly those coming from Asia — has increased dramatically on U.S. campuses over the past several years, a trend that is changing the face of college admissions in many ways.

According to the Institute of International Education, more than 68,000 students came from abroad to study in the United States in the 2007-2008 school year — a seven percent increase from the year before. The top five nations of origin for these students were India, China, South Korea, Japan and Canada, according to the Institute's data.

At Brown, admissions statistics mirror these larger trends.

According to data provided by the Office of Admissions, 33 students who attended high school in China entered Brown with the class of 2013 — up from 13 in the class of 2009. Over the same four-year period, the number of Korean students increased from nine to 21, the number from Singapore went from 10 to 14, and the number from India went from four to 15.

At the same time, the number of students from the Middle East, Western Europe and the Caribbean has decreased over the last five years.

"Ever since I've been here, there has always been an upward trend" in students coming from Asia, said Panetha Ott, director of international admissions.

Ott attributed the increase to the general trends of globalization and Web communication.
After the creation of the European Union, Ott said, schooling became free for any EU resident attending school in any other EU member nation. The result, Ott said, is that "Europe, which used to be the center of recruitment, gradually started sending fewer students to the U.S."

Moreover, Ott said, families in Asia have become more open to and interested in sending their children to the United States for school.

Kening Tan '12, who went to high school in China, said there has been a "tremendous" rise in the number of students from her high school looking at colleges in the United States.

But Ott said serving this growing interest comes with trade-offs.

Recruitment is difficult when admissions officers must travel across an ocean to conduct information sessions, and it is a challenge to ensure that all students have the tools they need to apply.

"You're not going to be able to hit everybody," Ott said.

As more students become interested in studying in the United States, a cottage industry of application preparation services has emerged, particularly in China.

Last month, Inside Higher Ed, an online magazine that explores topics in higher education, ran a story discussing the ethical questions admissions officers face in reviewing applications that may have come from students who have received inappropriate assistance — including forged transcripts and test scores.

Ott said Brown works to ensure that all applicants — from the United States and abroad — present correct information to the University in their applications.

But "it's hard," she said, noting that "it's also a phenomenon in the United States."

Ultimately, Ott said that despite the complications of recruiting and admitting students from abroad, international students contribute greatly to Brown's mission.

"If you are going to have good relationships with people, its important that they understand one another," she said. "And one means of doing that is studying abroad."


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