UH ranks high for foreign students
With a record number of students from around the world flocking to study in American colleges and universities, the U.S. remains the leading destination for international students.
UH, the second-most ethnically diverse research institution in the nation, ranks 25th in the number of international students enrolled, according to the Institute of International Education.
President Renu Khator said she is proud of the University’s ethnic diversity, but wants to increase UH’s presence worldwide.
"Our students are exposed to a multitude of cultures and perspectives on a campus with no ethnic majority. … I want us to have an even stronger global presence, expand our partnerships with universities outside the U.S. and add another layer of leadership to what we do," Khator said.
At UH, 10 percent of the student body is international students, and Khator said she wants to "at least double that total in the next four or five years."
UH enrolled 3,420 international students in the 2007-2008 academic year – an 8 percent increase from the previous year, according to the Institute of International Education. The University of Texas at Austin, with 5,550 international students, or 11 percent of its student body, and Texas A’M University at College Station, with 4,094, or 9 percent, both rank higher than UH in total number of international students enrolled.
Khator attributes the rise in international students at the University to efforts of the International Student and Scholar Services Office, UH’s worldwide reputation and the diversity of the city of Houston.
"We are proud of our internationally recognized academic programs, our award-winning faculty and our successful alumni. With the nation’s fourth-largest city at our doorstep, our students have access to Houston’s world-renowned cultural and entertainment offerings," Khator said.
Colleges and universities nationwide saw similar increases in international students in the 2007-08 academic year with a 7 percent rise of more than 620,000 students, marking the largest annual increase since 1980.
Explaining the growth, the report said American universities hold a top-notch reputation overseas for its academics, research and facilities.
American students are similarly attracted to studying abroad -†the number of American students studying outside of U.S. shores increased 8 percent in 2006-07 from the previous year, a 150 percent increase from a decade ago.
Among international students at UH, individual stories may have differed but the desire to live in Houston’s ethnically diverse population was a common link among those who enrolled.
Joseph Li, a mathematics sophomore, agreed.
"I originally wanted to study in the Northeast," Li said. "But as I visited the city, I felt like (Houston) was the place I could transition easiest."
Li also said differences in culture were still difficult.
"I don’t think I left my room the entire first year, but to go to class," Li said. "But I’m enjoying myself now."
Krishna Patel, an engineering sophomore, cited Houston’s thriving Indian population as one of the driving factors that influenced his decision to leave India for the University.
"I knew that I wanted to study somewhere I could not only learn, but also associate with other Indians," Patel said. "Of course leaving was hard, but coming here makes it easier."