Photo from mini.physics.sunysb.edu
By Nick Kalantzopoulos
The spreading of information on the World Wide Web becoming faster and easier than ever before comes with a great deal of economic and social opportunity. A perfect example of this type of social mobility can be found in the increasing number of international students in America’s universities.
In 2013-14, around 21 million students were enrolled in United States colleges. This number was the result of an overall increase of around 2.3 million since 2006, about a 12 percent rise. However, it took just one year, from 2012-13 to 2013-14, for the number of international students alone to increase by 8 percent.
The number of foreign students in the United States reached a record high of 886,052 in 2013-14, making up about 4 percent of the total student population.
Stony Brook University is helping lead the charge in the rise of international enrollments. Ranking fifth in the state in the number of foreign students according to a 2014 report on the Institute of International Education, more than 13 percent of Stony Brook University’s 16,840 undergraduate students came from different countries.
According to the institute, which filed its annual report, titled “Open Doors,” along with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the figure of international students at Stony Brook rose to 19.6 percent when including graduate students as well.
Increased interest in taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language, (TOEFL), a requirement for some schools including Stony Brook, corresponds with the increase of foreign enrollments, but higher exam scores might not be the only contributing factor.
According to college administrators and students, nearly all of the international enrollees pay full tuition. Figures from the United States Department of Commerce state that the estimated economic impact from the students’ tuition, living and travel expenses was $27 billion in the 2013-14 academic year.
According to a recent Newsday piece, many officials at universities in the state have admitted that foreign students are critically important to ensure that enough tuition money is making its way to the colleges.
According to a 2012 article in The Daily Oklahoman, which delved into foreign student enrollment, a survey released by the online publication Inside Higher Ed suggested that college officials nationwide were stepping up recruitment efforts for international students – particularly those who pay the full price for their education.
According to the 2012 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Admissions Directors, 35 percent of public four-year university admissions officials and 39 percent of private four-year college admissions officials strongly agreed that they planned to increase recruitment of international students. In the same survey, 31 percent of admissions officials strongly agreed that they were very likely to increase recruitment of students who pay full price for their education.
College and university officials generally place a high premium on increasing campus diversity, including among international students, as a way of exposing students to a range of backgrounds and perspectives. But international students also generally pay full out-of-state tuition and have fewer resources to help them pay for college than Americans. Most foreign citizens also are not eligible for federal financial aid programs, such as Pell Grants and the federal Work-Study Program, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
According to Stony Brook University’s website, for an international student to be issued a Certificate of Eligibility, they must have “provided proof of financial support for their proposed program of study,” along with providing proof of English language proficiency via the TOEFL exam.
According to the Long Island Business News, Chinese students are leading this trend of increasing international students at Stony Brook.
Unlike the rest of United States universities, which have the most students coming from India, Stony Brook’s lead foreign enrollment is from Chinese students, followed by Indians, Koreans, Taiwanese, Japanese, Turks and Canadians.
Other than the discrepancy by the top, Stony Brook mirrors the numbers of international students as the rest of the country, which saw 53,000 come from the Republic of Korea, 42,000 from Japan, 28,000 from Canada, 26,000 from Taiwan and 13,000 from Mexico, according to the Institute of Internal Education, as recently as 2005.
Stony Brook spokesman Patrick Calabria was quoted saying students from around the globe are interested in Stony Brook’s wide program of scientific studies. “These students came from virtually everywhere – Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South America,” Calabria said. “They’re interested in a wide range of disciplines, but certainly engineering, computer sciences and languages are among the most popular. ”
According to Jaideep Taneja, a 19-year-old Stony Brook student who had been living in India before enrolling in college, his required TOEFL exam cost 170 USD.
Jaideep noted that Stony Brook was an ideal choice for him because of its proximity to New York City and its lower tuition costs in comparison to other schools in the area.
Jaideep first heard about the university from a college counselor, who told him about its high level of education, especially in the STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — subjects. Jaideep is currently a business management major.
Xiangyu Deng, a 20-year-old Stony Brook student from China faced similar challenges. Xiangyu, who is currently an Electrical Engineering Major, took an alternative to the TOEFL, the IELTS, or the International English Language Testing System.
Xiangyu found out about Stony Brook from a student agency in China, that helps inform young adults about possible educational opportunities in English speaking countries such as the U.S., Australia and several European nations.
The IETS exam itself costs around 200 USD, to go along with the money for the agency, which, according to Xiangyu, was not funded by the school, but by each individual student.
The rise of the number of international students in the country, and especially in state colleges such as Stony Brook University can be traced to many reasons.
The higher speed of the spread of information from all across the world and the increase of the amount of money foreign students bring in are two crucial reasons. With the technological age we currently live in, these trends are more likely than not to continue.