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USF should attract more international students

According to researchers at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California at Berkeley, the U.S. is no longer the primary destination for foreign students. Countries in the European Union and other areas around the world are attracting foreign students away from the U.S.

The researchers recommended the U.S. develop a national strategy for recruiting international students to double the number to 1.25 million over the next decade. Because implementing a national strategy takes time, universities should develop their international programs.

USF should make itself more appealing to international students. Foreign students add diversity to campus and can bring a lot of money to the University. According to the Institute of International Education, they brought nearly $675 million to Florida in 2007.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, foreign enrollment at USF has been decreasing since 2005, with 111 fewer students enrolled in 2008 than in 2007.

Only 1,298 international students were enrolled at the USF Tampa campus in the fall of 2008, according to International Student and Scholar Services. The top three countries of origin were India, China and Columbia.

If the U.S. is losing more foreign students to its competitors, its perceived prestige may be dwindling. Some of the nation’s foreign competitors are even becoming more attractive to American students.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, American enrollment at Canadian colleges is rising quickly, and the Canadian Embassy is actively courting American students by organizing recruitment fairs in Philadelphia, Boston, Minneapolis and Stamford, Conn.

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada reported 8,200 American students last year, when there were only 3,312 a decade ago. According to the Canadian Embassy, the U.S. is the second-largest source of international students to Canada after China.

Many students were attracted to the high quality of education and prices lower than private or prestigious U.S. schools.

Making college more affordable, appealing and accessible will obviously take time, but USF can do its part by improving its programs and services offered to international students. While funding for the program may be limited, it will be worth the increase in revenue generated.