Drop in international students affects KSU enrollment

Carrie George and Eden Kraus

Kent State experienced a drop in international student enrollment, largely due to visa issues, cost and political climate.

The loss in enrollment was announced during the Board of Trustees meeting on Sept. 13.

According to the enrollment report for Fall 2017, the number of international students from last year to this year has dropped by 767 students.

“This is not a Kent State phenomenon,” said David Garcia, the senior associate vice president for enrollment management. “This is happening nationally.”

International enrollment dropped in every category, including new students, transfer students and graduate students, Garcia said.

Garcia said the largest losses are students from China, India and Saudi Arabia.

Currently, Indian students trying to study abroad are experiencing issues acquiring visas. The U.S. consulates and embassies in India started denying a large amount of student visas to Indian students hoping to attend American universities.

Saudi Arabia cut scholarship funding, increasing the cost of studying abroad greatly for Saudi Arabian students.

The current political climate has also had a significant effect on international students wanting to study in America.

“It’s the internal and external political environment,” said Marcello Fantoni, the associate provost in the Office of Global Education. “Many families are concerned about what they will find in this country.”

Fantoni, who works with OGE to recruit international students, finds the presence international students have on campus and domestic students detrimental to building outside and worldly perspectives.

“Diversification is not only about recruiting students,” Fantoni said. “It is also about bringing diversity to campus.”

Kent State students voiced their opinions on the international student decrease.

Tabor Oliver, a senior digital media production major, chose Kent because of its internationally diverse population.

“That’s what I looked for in a school: being able to share ideas with different people from different cultures,” Oliver said.

International students have a strong presence on campus and “make Kent what it is,” Oliver said.

Dondreya Allen, a senior applied communications major, believes international students bring new and outside perspectives to campus.

“I think (international students) help grow the population on campus and bring something different,” Allen said.

Allen blames the international student enrollment drop on today’s political climate.

“I think that Kent should do something to try to retain (international students) and try to get more to come,” Allen said.

Garcia announced that the university will continue the discussion on recruitment of international students.

“This is certainly a challenge,” Garcia said. “Nonetheless, we have a great team here that’s working hard to overcome these challenges.”

Fantoni remains positive and encourages Kent State to welcome the international students it currently has.

“In spite of what the world is, Kent State needs to present itself as a diverse and accepting place,” Fantoni said. “The world might be a little hostile around us, but we will not change what is in our DNA.”

Carrie George is the diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected]. Eden Kraus is the international students and issues reporter. Contact her at [email protected].