International Initiatives Thriving at USF
International student enrollment and the number of students studying abroad are each up more than 20 percent this fall.
New international students from India join Rocky at a welcome barbeque.
By Amanda Gilmer
Special to USF News
TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 10, 2012) – The University of South Florida has seen a 20 percent jump in international student enrollment this fall, according to International Services, the administrative and advising office for USF World.
Currently there are more than 2,100 international students on campus, the most in USF’s history.
On par with national statistics, the highest number of international students comes from China, followed by India and Saudi Arabia. And while the top three countries represented at USF stayed the same compared with 2011, there was a large increase in the number of Chinese students, which make up about 20 percent of USF’s total international student population.
USF attributes the increase to INTO USF, USF Admissions’ international recruitment strategy and the university’s focus on international engagement.
USF has seen incredible success with the INTO Pathways program, which currently has more than 300 enrolled students. Over the past year, 170 new degree seeking students progressed from an INTO Pathways program into the university (83 undergraduates and 87 graduates).
Building on this success, INTO currently has more than 100 more Pathways students than last fall. Specifically, INTO has seen a large increase in students from Central Asia and Eastern Europe including the Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan. Increased collaboration among USF, INTO USF and the INTO Regional Offices has created a positive student transition from the Pathways program to university life.
Additional factors contributing to increased international student numbers include new initiatives that bring visibility and awareness to USF. In May 2011 International Services hosted an EducationUSA training, which brought more than 20 international advisors to the university. EducationUSA is a global network of more than 400 advising centers supported by the U.S. Department of State.
This September, USF served as the institutional partner for the Fulbright Commission's USA College Day in London. College Day is the largest American university fair in the UK featuring over 150 exhibitors representing universities in the United States.
And Admissions has just announced that USF has been selected to host the 2014 Overseas Association for College Admission Counseling (OACAC) Conference, which will bring over 800 participants from around the world to campus in July 2014.
These events showcase USF and bring a visibility to the university that resonates with prospective international students. Assistant Vice President of Admissions, Recruitment & Enrollment Planning, J. Robert Spatig sees tangible benefits. “I know from participating in EducationUSA's Triennial Conference for Southeast Asia [a training and networking conference for international advisors] last April that word about USF is beginning to spread within the EducationUSA network” said Spatig. Over the last four years USF has seen a direct international freshman enrollment rise from 42 students in 2008 to over 100 students in 2012.
As USF has seen its international population increase so has the number of students studying abroad. The Education Abroad office reported a record number of USF students going abroad – a total of 1,041. The number of undergraduate students studying abroad has increased by 29 percent over the last year and over the last four years the USF System has increased the number of undergraduates studying abroad by 47 percent. Education Abroad Director, Amanda Maurer said, “USF’s commitment to creating global opportunities for our students is evident by the support from the faculty and administration. Over the last year we’ve seen a lot of success due to an increase in scholarships as well as greater visibility on campus. ”
Increased outreach programming, implementation of a new software system that allows students to apply online, the opening of the Gateway Office in the Marshall Center which gives students easier access to a study-abroad advisor, and the development of a peer mentor and outreach program that leverages students who can speak to their overseas experiences have all contributed to the significant increase in participation.
Education Abroad works closely with multiple departments on campus and has planned over 40 faculty led programs for 2013. While the additional costs of studying overseas can be a deterrent for students, the personal commitment from President Judy Genshaft and her husband Steve Greenbaum has resulted in a significant number of additional scholarships.
USF is on the map as a leader in global engagement and making the university competitive on a global scale and will continue to increase the opportunities for international students as well as students going abroad. These two groups help internationalize the campus and bring new ideas and opportunities for everyone.