USF Welcomes the World

International student recruitment and education organization selects Tampa campus for its yearly gathering.


By Kevin Burke

Special to USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Jan. 30, 2012) — The University of South Florida’s mission of global impact takes another sizeable stride forward this week when INTO University Partnerships convenes its annual recruitment and marketing conference on USF’s Tampa campus.


More than 120 representatives of the United Kingdom-based organization focused on creating distinctive and exceptional study experiences for college students worldwide are expected to participate in an array of discussions and events meant to enhance relationships and services that specifically address international students’ educational, social and cultural needs.


The group includes delegates from 22 INTO offices in 14 countries charged with identifying and recruiting high-achieving students in 75 nations who might benefit from academic programs and life experiences offered by institutions of higher education in both the U.K. and the United States.


USF has been associated with INTO since 2010 — a partnership that has done much to grow and diversify the university’s international student population at the same time it has raised the university’s global profile. This year, the INTO USF Center on campus is host to a record of more than 600 students from 45 nations, a 17 percent increase over the center’s enrollment during 2010-11 and a 16 percent margin above the program’s originally planned targets.


INTO USF’s achievements since its launch have not been limited solely to its success in attracting large numbers of international visitors, however. Students enrolled in its academic “Pathways” and English language programs also have performed at considerably higher levels than first anticipated. More than 80 percent of those in the inaugural 2010-11 phalanx qualified for progression to USF degree programs, and an impressive 92 percent of those qualified students then chose to actually enroll at USF.


Currently, there are more than 1,500 international students at USF, with another approximately 250 in academic pathways and roughly 360 in English language programs, bringing the total number of international students on campus to more than 2,100. All told, they represent some 150 nations.


“Our international students’ have unique needs and they’re getting the message that USF is a place where they can succeed,” said Glen Besterfield, director of the INTO USF Center and associate professor of mechanical engineering.  “We offer both undergraduate and graduate academic ‘Pathway’ programs as well as university-based English language programs and customized support services. The goal is to see our international recruits integrated into the broader university community, with additional support in getting them acclimated to the U.S. and to studying as full-time students.


“Having the opportunity to showcase USF during this annual conference undoubtedly will help bring even more international students to our campus.”  


Those attending the conference can expect a full itinerary during their stay, Besterfield added, with activities designed to educate them further about the latest activities at the university while also highlighting all of the great things that Tampa has to offer. Monday includes an “international showcase” event in the Marshall Student Center, with welcoming remarks by USF President Judy Genshaft and Provost Ralph Wilcox, followed by a program of music, theater and dance performances featuring faculty and students from the College of The Arts.


Also on hand will be representatives of each of USF’s colleges showcasing their academic programs. In addition, attendees can obtain information about athletics, the Graduate School, housing and residential education, the library, research and innovation, student affairs, student government, international clubs, undergraduate research, and USF World, among other departments, offices and organizations on campus.


Steven Smale, INTO global recruitment director, said he and his colleagues are thrilled at the opportunity to visit and learn more about USF.


“INTO has a vision to become the premier international student recruitment and marketing organization in the world, and this is yet another important step in the journey to reach that goal,” Smale said.


At the same time, Karen Holbrook, USF senior vice president for research, innovation and global affairs, said INTO is helping USF to achieve its own objective of helping students feel at home “in a world where getting along with all kinds of people is both mind-expanding and an economic necessity.”


“Not only do we want our students to study abroad at every opportunity, we hope that they will meet, sit next to, and become friends with people from all over the world here on campus on a daily basis. The INTO USF program contributes greatly to our ability to achieve this goal.”


Kevin Burke can be reached at 813-974-0192.