National trend of 8 percent influx of international grad students is reflected from Kent State’s statistics as well

Bruce Walton

Following a national trend, Kent State’s international graduate student enrollment has increased over the past two years.

According to a report by the Council of Graduate Schools, the number of international students enrolled in American graduate programs has increased 8 percent from the fall semester of 2011 to 2012.

Between fall 2011 and fall 2012, Kent State went from 804 graduate students to 808. Between fall 2012 and the fall 2013, the number of international graduate students on the Kent campus increased from 808 to 860, a drastic spike considering the Kent’s graduate programs only saw an increase of four international students the previous year.

The majors that attract international students the most are Arts and Sciences, followed by Business and Administration and EHHS.

“I think that the programs we have here at Kent State attract a lot of attention from international graduate students,” said Desnee Stevens, Assistant Director of International Student and Scholar Services of the Office of Global Education. “The programs are very well-received and the students are very well-prepared when they leave.”

Mary Ann Stephens, Dean of Graduate Studies, believes that the increase in international students benefits domestic students as well.

“I think it adds to the learning experience of all of our students to have people from very diverse backgrounds, including different international cultures,” Stephens said. “So for me, it’s a very positive addition to the Kent State experience for graduate and undergraduate students.”

The success of the international graduate enrollments could be in part because of the Office of International Affairs’ proactive approach. Kent State reaches out to other countries, setting up centers in certain countries to inform students about Kent State’s graduate programs.

However, there are many reasons for international students to come Kent State on their own. Stevens said that Kent State’s opportunities and schools attract students from around the world.

“Sometimes [international students] are perusing a higher education as well, which going back to their countries is sometimes helpful, or not helpful,” said Desnee Stevens, who warns that a higher education from America may not always guarantee a better job or a job at all.

For Afnan Abdulaziz, a Saudi Arabian graduate interior architecture major, chose Kent State for many reasons, one of them being career advancement. In Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz taught interior architecture as an associate professor at Tibah University. The university granted Abdulaziz a full-ride scholarship to any university to further her education and better teach at Tibah University.

Abdulaziz preferred not to earn her master’s degree in Saudi Arabia because of difference in interior architecture programs offered for men and women. Universities in Saudi Arabia are same-sex, and the programs offered at women’s colleges don’t compare to those offered for men.

Abdulaziz lives off-campus with her husband Tareq Mohammed, an undergraduate freshman biochemistry major and their daughter. Abdulaziz will begin her first year after finishing her ESL program, a requirement for all international students.

Mohammed said he plans to go back to Saudi Arabia after he receives his bachelor’s degree. He hopes to return for his master’s from an American university as well.

Many international students choose a university because of the familiarity of family. Sometimes when friends or family have already studying at a university, family members are more likely to choose that university as well.

This is also true for Abdulaziz, whose brother also attends Kent State and was another reason she chose the university.

Desnee Stevens also believes that the enrollment will begin to plateau eventually.

According to Stevens, enrollment may slow depending on some nations’ admissions department. Countries may decide to stop sending students to America for a while if too many students are leaving and enrollment in the countries drastically drops.

For more information about international student enrollment, click here.

Contact Bruce Walton at [email protected].