Chinese student population drives overall international increase

Admissions has implemented a recruiter who focuses solely on international recruitment.
Casey Purcella / Graphic Designer

International students are becoming an increasingly more common facet of MU’s campus, with this semester’s population larger than ever.

International Center Director James Scott said in his six years at the university, he has never seen a greater number of international students studying at MU. So far this semester, 2,016 international students have enrolled at MU, and Scott said this number will likely increase as time passes.

“That number may go up because not everybody has checked in yet,” he said. “It could be air travel or delays, which is typical for the spring semester. I think it will go up.”

Of the 2,016 students, about 450 are undergraduate students. Scott said the growth in overall international students is at the undergraduate level.

The increase is most prevalent in the Chinese student community, Scott said. Since 2006, the international student population from China has increased from 350 to 900.

“I think, for the most part, the growth is from families in China,” he said. “Most of those students are funded by their family or self-funded. The economic growth in China is such that more and more people are in the middle class, so they can afford to send their children to the U.S. to study.”

Ten years ago, 1,400 international students were at MU. Scott said this number has steadily grown since, and he accredits the growth to many different factors.

“First of all, the number of people in the age group of traditional students is really growing,” he said. “There is an explosion of young people around the world, and there just isn’t enough space in their home countries’ universities.”

In addition to this, Scott said many of MU’s colleges have become more international. He said the faculty has become increasingly more international, which in turn attracts more international students.

MU received its first batch of 11 students from Brazil’s Science Without Borders this semester. The program is an effort of the Brazilian government to send its students to the world’s best universities, and Scott said it reflects MU’s strong relationship with universities in Brazil.

MU has relationships with universities not only in Brazil, but around the world as well.

“Engineering, for instance, has several agreements that students who had two years in China could come here to finish their degrees,” Scott said. “A lot of colleges have things like this. That builds the ties between the universities and draws in a lot of students.”

Numbers will likely continue to climb in coming years, partially because of the Admissions Office’s addition of an international recruiter. John Wilkerson has held the position since its creation at the beginning of the fall semester.

“Good recruiting practice involves smart, managed growth,” Wilkerson said in an email. “The research focus and strong reputation of the university have made Mizzou a very attractive destination for international students, and that’s been the primary means of recruitment in the past. This position will take the next step in recruiting international students from parts of the world where we haven’t traditionally received a great number of students.”

Wilkerson said MU is recruiting in Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

“As we begin to welcome more students from these areas, we hope to expand recruitment activities into other regions,” he said.

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