MOLINE, Ill — Western Illinois University is looking to refine its opportunities for international students after reporting record numbers for enrollment.
For the Fall 2022 semester, the college took in 420 new international students and 688 returning ones, the highest in the school's history.
Randy Glean, WIU associate vice president of global studies said that while the majority of international students are in graduate programs, he wants to bring in more undergraduate students.
"Our focus is growing the undergraduate programs to match the momentum that we've seen with the graduate programs," Glean said.
He also wants more international students at the Quad Cities campus, and to boost numbers in other fields of study.
"We can get more international students in programs like sociology and history, as opposed to just computer and data sciences," Glean said.
To accomplish this, Glean said the school is continuing to offer competitive tuition and scholarships, and retain quality staff and faculty.
"I wish at times we had more of us to accomplish the things we need to do, but outside of that, I think the students see the commitment, the love, the care that the staff and the faculty put into this institution," Glean said. "It gives them the confidence that they're going into someplace positive."
WIU is also looking to bring in students from other parts of the world. Currently the university has students from 49 different countries, but Glean wants to improve that number to at least 70 different countries.
The school is using new partnerships to accomplish this. One region they're focusing on is the Caribbean.
"They have excellent students, for one, and it's close and very accessible," Glean said. "You don't have the language or the cultural adaptation issues that you may have in other places. The visas are pretty much automatic for students from that area. And they tend to stay put and graduate at high rates."
WIU not only has partnerships with eight schools from the Caribbean nations, but are also working closely with the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC).
Glean explained that the organization manages a unified testing system similar to SATs here in the U.S. These test scores among other standardized elements in the education system of the Caribbean region makes it easier for WIU to evaluate students from the area, he said.
Glean also wants to bring in more international students from regions such as Asia, specifically China, South Korea and Vietnam. As COVID-19 travel restrictions lessen, WIU hopes to see growth in enrollment from those regions.
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