CANYON, Texas (KVII) — The number of international students attending West Texas A&M University is declining. For the second year in a row enrollment figures and application requests from international students dropped.
“International students bring a lot to our classrooms beyond just tuition and fees for the university (WT), said Kristine Combs, director of International Student Services.
Which is why her department is working closely with international students on how to reverse a recent trend and increase the numbers. Baris Yildirim of Turkey who attends WT cites the difficulty many students face applying for a visa depending on which country they live in.
“If you don’t live in Europe or in a European city it can be difficult,” said Baris Yildirim, international student. “It can be really hard if you live in Syria, Iran or Turkey. If you don’t accepted to big school and you don’t have good amount of money in bank account it can be pretty hard to get the visa.”
Other factors according to Combs is the current political climate, recent news media coverage of a travel ban, negative images of the border on TV and the fact that select countries have made it easier to accept international students who have a visa.
“Other countries like Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK have upped their efforts to take some of those students into their ranks,” said Combs. “There is a lot of marketing for them to come elsewhere besides the United States.”
The Open Doors Publication reports that international students contribute around $42 billion a year to the U.S. Economy.
“Besides going overseas we are also hitting the transfer markets,” said Combs. “There are a large number of students from other countries attending community colleges who want to transfer to a four-year university. These students are at community colleges in Houston area or other parts of Texas. We want to hit the transfer markets.”
“You have to prove yourself,” said Yildirim. “You going to stay here, you’re going to have to study and then go back to your country.”
In recent years Canada has increased international student enrollment by 20 percent. The overall benefits to a university like WT to having a large number of international students are as follows. Diversity, alternative point of views in classrooms, life time friendships and tuition dollars. International students pay on average $23,500 for one year to attend WT. Vietnam, currently has the highest amount of international students attending WT. In the fall of 2016 there were 257 international students enrolled. In the fall of 2018 enrollment dropped to 217.