International student enrollment rate more than triples
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 21:04
Freshman Abdullah Al-Sinaidi, who chose to come to the university from Oman, said he has enjoyed his time at Delaware and thinks the university does an excellent job of integrating foreign students into American culture.
“I think they are doing more than enough,” Al-Sinaidi said. “It’s all about us and if we commit to being engaged to the activities that the university gives us.”
Enrollment rates for international students have increased annually since 2007. From that year to 2011 there was a 365 percent increase.
Michael Alexo, an admissions staff assistant at the English Language Institute, stated in an email message that the current enrollment at the ELI is about 660 students. He said this number has increased by over 10 percent from last year.
While Al-Sinaidi normally does not like schoolwork he said taking ELI courses is the first time he has enjoyed class. He said he chose to come here because the university is so highly ranked.
Al-Sinaidi said he has made many friends from living in his dorm and participating in pick-up games at the university’s gym. He said he thinks the American students he interacts with have been sociable and accepting.
“It’s really indescribable how friendly they are,” Al-Sinaidi said. “You can’t really find that in other places.”
Junior Mengdi Zhang, an international business and marketing major with a minor in German, came from China to study at the ELI. Zhang, whose parents applied for her to attend school in United States without telling her, said the influx of international students attending the university has become increasingly evident.
Zhang said while she has noticed a general increase in international students, she has specifically noticed a rise in enrollment of students from China and Saudi Arabia.
Students at the ELI are coming from a diverse array of backgrounds, Alexo said.
“80 percent of our students are currently from Saudi Arabia, China, Kuwait and Brazil,” Alexo said. “Over 30 other countries are represented in the next 20 percent.”
Last spring, the ELI implemented the Conditional Admittance Program Cohort Model that organizes students of different nationalities into small groups to develop friendships and linguistic, academic and cross cultural skills, according to the ELI website.
Zhang said many students from abroad are attracted to the university because American higher education is held in high esteem internationally.
She said her parents were the ones who encouraged her to come to an American school because they believed it would provide her with a quality education.
Despite the increase of students in the ELI, Zhang said she feels the university does not do much to help foreign students connect with American students. However, she said she has made friends on campus and finds American students to be very welcoming.
“They are really friendly, polite and helpful,” Zhang said.
Zhang said she bonded with American students through joining extracurricular activities, such as fencing and German clubs. She said she also met students while studying abroad in Germany this past winter.
Junior Alexis Miller, a triple language major at the university, said she met her roommate, a Beijing native, as a freshman when she joined the International Culture Club on campus. The pair met at an ELI and International Culture Club event and have been close friends and roommates for two years, she said.
Miller said she thinks many international students are attracted to the university because of the diversity and acceptance of the student population.
“I think we are very open-minded as a campus and very accepting as a whole,” Miller said. “For students who want to broaden their horizons and meet wewstudents from all over the place, I think UD is a good option for that.”
Although the university does have programs such as the ELI and International Culture Club, most of the interactions between American and international students remain on an academic rather than social level, Miller said.
She said although the university offers some resources, the responsibility lies on students to make connections on their own. Regardless of whether there were more resources available, it might not make a difference, Miller said.
“Even if we had a lot of programs, it is mostly up to the students whether they want to interact," Miller said.