UB's Large International Student Population an Economic, Cultural, Educational Boon

Release Date: August 26, 2008

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- More than 15 percent of University at Buffalo students come from outside the United States -- 4,300 plus last year and about the same number expected for the new academic year, which began yesterday. It is a population UB is working hard to increase.

Stephen Dunnett, Ph.D., vice provost for international education at UB, says, "In a significant sense, international students play a large role in creating UB's campus culture. They internationalize the university and the community and enrich us educationally, economically and culturally.

"Their presence is a catalyst to our domestic students to study foreign languages and to participate in study abroad, and they serve as ambassadors of their countries and cultures, which enriches the campus and community by their presence. In trying to recruit domestic and international students we say: 'come to UB and we will give you the world!'"

The 2006-07 economic impact study published by the Association of International Educators in November 2007 reported that UB's international students alone contributed almost $80 million a year to the Western New York economy, more than students at any public New York State institution of higher education.

U.S. News and World Report last week ranked UB with Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania as having one of the largest enrollments of international undergraduate students in the U.S.

With the number of 18 year-old U.S. high school graduates in the college enrollment pool predicted to begin a decline in 2010, Dunnett says recruitment of international students is becoming a priority at many U.S. colleges and universities. Then, as now, UB and other U.S. schools will face intense competition from thousands of colleges and universities seeking to enroll available American students.

"U.S. schools will have trouble fulfilling their undergraduate enrollment requirements with high quality students if they are not able to attract students from overseas," Dunnett says.

"International students (most at UB come from India, Korea and China) pay full tuition and usually full board as well -- roughly twice what domestic students pay, and they spend money on many other items besides," Dunnett says, "so they contribute mightily to the financial stability of the university as well as to the economic well-being of Western New York.

"I want to be clear that we compete mightily for all of our students, domestic and foreign, in-state and out-of-state," Dunnett says, "and we are deeply dedicated to the education of every one of them.

"But we need to recognize that our out-of-state student population, which increasingly comes from foreign nations," he says, "is academically well-prepared, very canny about the quality of the education they receive for the price and sought after by thousands of institutions in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

"They are well aware that they pay much more for their education than do Americans at the same school, and they know they have plenty of other options," he says, "so to attract them and keep them, we offer the best service and the most enhanced academic experience possible."

Dunnett says UB was among the very first U.S. universities to recruit and enroll large numbers of foreign students, and to provide the kinds of services that recognized their special language needs. Decades of experience and high-quality resources offer an advantage, he says.

"We have an excellent reputation overseas and have many distinguished alumni," he says, "and our outstanding program in English-as-a-second language education has been a superb resource for international students for 37 years. We help to facilitate their thesis writing, offer classes in accent reduction and provide assistance for those who find our large decentralized libraries complex and confusing.

"Our superb Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISS) offers a variety of wonderful programs, including a comprehensive and on-going orientation to living and studying in America, underway now for the fall incoming class; cross-cultural counseling and academic advisement, etc.

"We are also particularly attentive to the student services area," he says, "and offer beautiful residences, excellent food and a wide range of assistance for everything from immigration and visa issues to international student clubs, news updates and social activities through our Office of International Scholar and Student Services. We constantly try to provide a good experience for these students because they give so much to us in return."

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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