International student enrollment continues to rise

The enrollment numbers continue to rise as Tech starts the Fall 2012 semester with more than 200 international students on campus. 
The International Student Affairs office started the semester with a rise in international students on Tech’s campus.  The numbers have increased the past five years based on interest in the campus, what Tech can offer the students and what programs are available.
“The numbers for the semester is 60 exchange students, 39 graduate students and 128 undergraduate students,” Charles Wilkerson, director of the International Student Affairs office, said.  “That’s not including the 100 ESL students.”
According to Amy Miller, study abroad coordinator, they have gained about 50 students each semester.
Wilkerson said one reason for the growth is from the recruiting.
“We have only been recruiting for the past three years,” Wilkerson said.  “When we started recruiting, the students started showing up.”
Wilkerson said part of the recruiting process is going to different countries and attending specific fairs to hand out information to students about Tech.  He will be attending a fair at the U.S. Embassy this week to gain prospective students.
“I will have students fill out prospect cards so that I am able to contact them to see if they would like more information about Tech,” Wilkerson said.
Hiromi Kawamura, a Tech senior studying abroad from Japan, said that she found Tech by going online instead of being recruited. 
“It was just on my own,” Kawamura said.  “I just came across Tech randomly.”
According to Wilkerson, the students come from all over the globe.  Some countries include Iran, Peru, Thailand and Indonesia, but the new trend is students from Asian countries.
“The largest group is Saudi Arabia,” Wilkerson said. “However, the new students are coming from Asia. We have been getting a lot of students from the Middle East for the last few years because their government has been giving them scholarships and other forms of financial aid.”
Kawamura said she didn’t want to go to a university that didn’t have too many Japanese students.
“I didn’t want to make friends with just Japanese students because I wouldn’t be able to use English as much as I would like to,” Kawamura said.
Wilkerson said another reason the undergraduate numbers have increased is because of the programs involved with Tech.  Other reasons include traveling, learning the English language and gaining a degree to pursue a job.
The numbers are growing based on the English as a Second Language program Tech offers to international students.  Wilkerson said the program is based through the organization FSL International, which teaches students how to speak English, so they can advance and continue their education through Tech.
“Tennessee Tech is the only site in the South,” Wilkerson said.
Miller said the international students spend up to 30 hours a week working on the ESL program.
“When the students reach a certain level of English, they can integrate into the university classes,” Miller said.