The Daily Eastern News

International students increase amid enrollment decline

T'Nerra Butler, Multicultural Editor

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Among budgets cuts and a declining enrollment, Eastern has seen the international student population increase by 7 percent this fall semester.

Enrollment has gone down with 8,520 currently enrolled, 291 of which are international students.

Eastern saw 273 international students on its campus last fall. The number is up 39 percent from fall 2013, and only 141 international students attended the university 10 years ago.

Kevin Vicker, the director of international students and scholars, said tuition is one of the reasons Eastern is seeing an increase of the International students.

“We recruited more outside of the English center here, like in Chicago (and) Indianapolis,” Vicker said. “So those partnerships are where we offer admission. They’re through language centers.”

Those neighboring centers assist students from different countries in either learning or improving on their English skills.

Vicker said different countries have agents who bring in students from countries like Nepal, Nigeria, Korea and Saudi Arabia. He said China is slowly sending students to Eastern and building from the campus’ current number.

He said more students from different countries are likely to come next semester.

“It’s a lot easier for students in the fall because the weather is better, and there’s a lot more activity going on outside and that’s helpful,” Vicker said.

The highest number in the International student population is 113, which is in India. The fifth highest comes from China, which is 21. Overall the department represents 40 countries.

This semester, Saudi Arabian students have seen the biggest increase, which was 19 last year and is now at 34.

Vicker said programs like the Language Center on campus and other centers the department has built relationships with help bring more students. He said international students find themselves in tune with Eastern and make it their home.

However, he said many international students have issues enrolling.

“There’s always challenges; I think sometimes finances can be a challenge for certain students,” Vicker said. “Certain subjects can be challenging for students, American students, and sometimes there are language issues.”

The popular fields international students study are technology, business, economics, kinesiology and sports studies, and biological sciences. Of all the undergraduate students, 95 fall in the international student category.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Vicker said a vast number of the undergraduates study business. After the business field, the students are spread out within the majors offered on campus.

Vicker said it means a lot when an institution can say they recruited more students.

“It shows that we are something,” Vicker said. “We offer student programs and an environment that is attractive to them.”

Vicker said the increase opens up doors for people to advance themselves in a global perspective. He said it helps understand where people are coming from different parts of the world.

He said students live in a global society, so to be successful students need to be more than aware of different cultures.

Vicker said it is vital for every student on campus to be exposed to the cultures around them. He said the relationships students build helps them meet new people and network, both of which are essential to handling things outside of college. He said international students bring a piece of their own world to Eastern.

Vicker said the international students affect Eastern’s enrollment because they are the university’s enrollment.

“Any increase is a good increase for EIU and they are a part of EIU,” Vicker said.


T’Nerra Butler can be reached at or 581-2812

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International students increase amid enrollment decline