International student enrollment sees yearly increases

Tech’s International Student Affairs Office is busy as the number of international students grows.

Within the last five years, Tech’s student body has grown. According to an e-mail from Alexis Pope, Tech’s assistant director of admissions, one of the biggest increases comes from the international freshman.

In Spring 2011, 53 international students were admitted while 188 international students were admitted in Spring 2012.

“Charles [Wilkerson] has been going out and recruiting more, like traveling to China and Vietnam, and going to career fairs to recruit students,” Amy Miller, Tech study abroad coordinator, said. “He wasn’t able to do that much before because we didn’t have enough staff here. As we have added on to the office and have more staff members, he has been able to go out and recruit more students.”

According to Miller, part of the growth comes from the international students who come from abroad to study and get a degree. Another influence is through word-of-mouth, with students telling their family and friends, spreading international awareness about Tech.

“We get mostly Saudi Arabian students,” Miller said. “We also get people from other countries including China, India, Kuwait and Brazil.”

According to Miller, there are several aspects that appeal to the international students, including an English language school on Tech’s campus and a less expensive tuition. With Tech being a smaller college and overseas from their home lands, students studying at the University will have a better chance of getting a job.

“Charles Wilkerson visits career fairs in places like China and Vietnam and other countries,” Miller said. “He also speaks to different schools about the engineering and business programs available on our campus. When he goes overseas to the career fairs, he gets a lot of attention specifically because we have a strong engineering department.”

Andrew Bleignier, Tech immigration specialist, said, “The Tennessee Board of Regents has allowed us to make agreements with agents that can help do the recruitment from abroad. Our director has been tasked to build good relationships with trustworthy individuals that can help provide us with applications for the students.”

According to Miller, one reason students come to Tech is to get different types of scholarships, including honors scholarships and other funding from their countries’ governments.

“All scholarships come from the outside. Some come from their governments to come here,” Miller said. “An example is almost all the Saudi Arabian students are on a full scholarship from their government. Also, several Brazilians are on a program called Science without Boarders, which allows them to study abroad and allows them to be here for a year.”

Bleignier said, “I’m bias. I think it’s absolutely wonderful in so many aspects. I think international students on campus add to an educational environment of sharing exploration with other students. I think more a diverse a campus is—not just of race, but of ages and backgrounds—benefits everyone in so many ways.”