Increase in international students

John Riedel, Staff Writer

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UVM seeks to recruit more international students as part of a growing trend among American universities entering the international market.

This is a result of  the “Enhancing Quality and Affordability Strategic Action Plan” set forth by President Tom Sullivan in 2013.

In 2013, international students were just 1 percent of the undergraduate student body.

UVM is working to increase international student enrollment by 5 to 7 percent, according to the plan.

Today, the University is increasing international student enrollment through the UVM Global Gateways Program — a partnership between UVM and Study Group USA, a private international student recruitment company.

Full-time students in the Gobal Gateways Program went from about 14 students in the 2013-2014 academic year to about 95 students in the 2014-2015 academic year, according to the Spring 2015 Enrollment Report.

In the partnership, Study Group recruits international students to come to UVM and provides on-campus support for them, in return for a cut of their tuition.

Kim Howard, director of the Office of International Education, discusses the resources provided to international students at UVM Sept. 8. The Office of International Education has expanded its office, as well as staff, as the number of international students increases

Kim Howard, director of the Office of International Education, discusses the resources provided to international students at UVM Sept. 8. The Office of International Education has expanded its office, as well as staff, as the number of international students increases

In the contract between UVM and Study Group USA,  details of student support services provided by the company are redacted. The redactions are allowed under the “trade secret” exemption to Vermont’s public records law.

Part-time student Peng Chen described the process of choosing a university in a foreign country as challenging. Chen is from Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China.

Chen said the Global Gateway Program gives him a chance to adjust to the climate and culture of Vermont in a “step-by-step process.”

Chen also expressed concern over the logistics of UVM handling more international students in the future. He said that the Office of International Education is helpful and likes to engage with students.

“However, I think they are inefficient, which means it usually takes a long time to get feedback about your need,” Chen said. “If they can figure it out, I think they could be better.”

94.60 percent of international students said, “The OIE staff is helpful for my immigration needs,” according to a Spring 2015  survey done by the Office of International Education.

91.89 percent of international students  said, “The OIE staff processes my immigration requests in a timely manner,” and  87.57 percent said,  “The OIE staff is helpful for my personal needs,” according to the survey.

87.56 percent said, “It is easy to arrange a time to meet with OIE staff members,” and 83.78 percent said, “The emails I send to the OIE are responded to in a timely manner,” according to the survey.

Kim Howard, director of the Office of International Education, said Study Group’s primary responsibility is the recruitment of international students.

“They assign staff members who work on this campus in the basement of MAT who literally are sitting right next to UVM faculty who are delivering the course content,” Howard said.

UVM’s admissions director, Beth Wiser, said Study Group helps the admissions office with the recruiting and marketing processes of bringing international students to UVM.

“The University made a commitment to increasing the percentage of international undergraduate students,” Wiser said. UVM’s partnership with Study Group is a result of that.

This article has been updated from its print version.