USF Launches Drive to Maximize International Student Success

 

TAMPA (Jan. 19, 2010) -- The University of South Florida (USF) and INTO University Partnerships embarked Tuesday on a joint venture to increase international student recruitment at USF and ensure greater student success.

The new INTO USF international study center, based at USF’s Tampa campus, will offer a unique range of programs that will help USF capitalize on the growing number of international students seeking to study abroad.

The venture is also expected to create new jobs and economic opportunities for both USF and the larger Tampa Bay region. The effort is jointly financed by the USF Foundation and INTO University Partnerships. No public dollars will be spent on the recruitment and education effort.

INTO USF will recruit approximately 300 international students for its undergraduate and graduate programs, which begin in August 2010.

The innovative year-long preparation courses provide international students with the specific academic, English and cultural skills needed for successful study in American universities. In time, the study center intends to broaden its course portfolio to support USF’s long term goals to provide more globally competitive undergraduate, graduate and professional programs; enhance global literacy; and expand global engagement initiatives.

“USF’s responsibility is to prepare all its students to be successful in an integrated, globalized world where the ability to work with people from other nations is a vital skill,” said USF President Judy Genshaft.  “The INTO USF partnership will enhance the educational experience for all students on our campus, allowing us to continue offering the best courses for our students while creating educational opportunities for a growing market of international students.”

Through the partnership, USF will connect with INTO’s network of sales and marketing staff, which includes 800 education recruitment representatives working with INTO’s 23 offices worldwide. The company has special focus on Latin America, India, China and nations such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Sixty recruiters from those nations will spend the next two days on campus learning about USF’s academic programs, campus life and research activities. The recruiters also are getting a glimpse of life in the Tampa Bay region.

And while the goal is a lofty one, the first step to getting there on Tuesday was an easy one – recruiters were quick to pick up on a campus atmosphere they described as “energetic, warm and welcoming,” noting those are three qualities that matter greatly to international students.

“That whole message that you are welcome, we want you and you are not just outsiders intruding into our space is the greatest message we take back,’ said Pratibha Jain, a  recruiter from Mumbai, India. “You are enriching that environment as much as you are getting enriched is the key message.”

International students also are looking for quality education programs, said Lihua Yao, a leading INTO recruiter in the northern China city of Dalian.

“Most Chinese are focused on the academic strength of the university and they are looking for dedicated staff and faculty,” she said. “There are many differences between the two education systems, but we find that the Chinese students appreciate a more confident, happy atmosphere. They want to feel like they can make this home.”

International students are a growth market for U.S. universities; the U.S. Department of Commerce estimates foreign students contributes $17.8 billion to the U.S. economy each year. The number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by 8 percent to an all-time high of 671,616 in the 2008-09 academic year.

 

Despite having one of the largest enrollments in the country, USF ranks 81st in terms of size of international student population. In 2008-09, foreign students comprised just 4 percent of its student body – about 1,800 students.

The partnership is aimed at increasing that number, which in the process also will create new revenues for improving academic offerings for all USF students.

“USF is a modern university with a significant value proposition to international students,” said David Stremba, INTO’s managing director for North America. “It has a growing reputation for research, a wide variety of majors, and Tampa offers a fantastic outdoor lifestyle with great weather for most of the year. The INTO USF venture will give an increasing number of international students exposure to these benefits while enhancing Florida’s attraction as a study destination,”

INTO USF undergraduate students will pay full-time, non-resident tuition fees of about $16,000 (compared with average Florida resident undergraduate fees of $4,000), and will not be counted against USF’s enrollment cap or displace Florida resident students in the admissions process.

Provost Ralph Wilcox, who has spearheaded the INTO USF partnership, said Tuesday the effort not only builds on the university’s goals as a globally-engaged university, but provides all USF students relevant educational experiences to succeed in a world where issues, information and challenges transcend borders.

“We want our students to be provided an opportunity to develop a healthy appreciation of real-world problem solving so upon graduation they can become leaders,” Wilcox said.

Case in point: USF Student Body Vice President Bruno Portigliatti, who is from Brazil and encouraged recruiters to see the campus as a place of great potential for international students.

“USF has opened so many doors for me, given me so many opportunities,” said Portigliatti who is graduating this year with a double-major in political science and Spanish and plans to go to law school. “Through me, you can see how USF embraces international students.”

USF is the latest leading university to partner with INTO, following eight UK universities and Oregon State University, the company’s first U.S. partner.

INTO University Partnerships, a UK-based company, was established in 2006 and is expected to form partnerships with more than 20 universities across the UK, U.S. and Asia by 2015. For the academic year 2010-11, there are currently more than 4,500 international students enrolled at INTO study centers.

“After successful ventures in the UK, we have experienced record levels of international student recruitment this year in the UK and in our first year with Oregon State University, which proves the INTO model can work well in the U.S.,” said Andrew Colin, Chairman of INTO University Partnerships. “We expect INTO USF will enjoy similar successes over the coming years.”

 

 

The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of only 25 public research universities nationwide with very high research activity that is designated as community engaged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The university offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The USF System has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

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