Beijing center brings more students to KSU

Kelly Petryszyn

Kent State has approximately 425 international students this year. About 200 of those students are Chinese, said Mary Anne Saunders, executive director of the Office of International Affairs.

That number nearly doubles last year’s number of 102 international Chinese students. The numbers are approximations at this time because students are still registering, but final counts should be ready this week.

This spike in enrollment is mostly a result of the Kent State China Center in Beijing, which opened in March 2008.

The center is part of the “China Vision” initiative created by former Vice Provost for Diversity Steve Michael to increase international student enrollment.

There are many reasons why Kent State decided to recruit international students from China, said Ted McKown, associate director of the Office of International Affairs.

Considering the economy and recent state budget cuts for education, Saunders said Kent State “needs to recruit from markets where people can pay for their own education.”

The university makes $1.2 million for every 50 international students, he said. That is approximately $24,000 in revenue per student.

Kent State isn’t the only place making money from Chinese students. McKown said that because most international students can only bring one suitcase, the local economy benefits because they need to purchase everything at nearby stores.

McKown said there are more college-bound Chinese students, about 500 million, than there are people in the United States, about 300 million, making it easier to recruit. There aren’t enough Chinese universities to support the demand for a college education in China.

“(We) need to learn how to interact with China,” said McKown. “They are a big player in the global economy. If you don’t know how to interact, (you) can make serious mistakes.”

Saunders said she gives a lot of credit to Bei Cai, the director of Kent State’s China Center. The assistant professor of communication studies from the Stark campus formed relationships with Chinese recruiting firms and universities including Shanghai University and Xiamen University.

Kent ‘s next focus is to further partnership plans with Saudi Arabia and Taiwan.

McKown said a greater international presence at Kent State is beneficial to all.

“Students can have an international experience by interacting with different cultures,” he said.

Contact Kelly Petryszyn at [email protected].