How inclusive is Eastern with international students?


Adriana Hernandez-Santana

Map of the world’s countries saying hello in a variety of languages in Coleman Hall.

Adriana Hernadez-Santana, Junior Feature Editor

Considering that Eastern does not do any advertising or recruiting to other countries, the word of mouth from former graduates really helps to keep our international student body in the hundreds. 

The Office of International Students prides itself in having a high international student body, and the numbers are getting bigger. 

All of the students choose to commit to Eastern simply based on word of mouth from former graduates. 

For the demographic makeup, there is currently a total of 740 international students, with the largest contributions being students from India. Making up around 500 individuals. The second highest would be students from Nigeria. The remaining students are from places such as Brazil and Italy. 

According to Benjamin Reinbolt, the designated school official, one of the biggest reasons why Eastern has such a high number of international students is the technology program. 

“I mean, we have a really strong international demographic in the technology program, most of our technology students are in our graduate program,” Reinbolt said. “They’re mostly technology, and almost all of them are from India, but we do have a few students that are from Nigeria, and some from other countries.” 

While many students in the grad program get to really experience the Western culture, there are some struggles that they encounter while going to school in America. 

Coming from out of the country, one of the biggest and most common issues that students face is transportation. 

“They don’t have their own vehicles when they come here, some don’t have the US drivers licenses either,” he said. “So they may have driven back home, but they would need an international driver’s license, and it’s only good for a certain amount of time.”

Reinbolt recognized the Panther shuttle or Dial-a-Ride to be some types of options for students, but considering the different hours, it can be hard for students to get to the store and back in a timely manner while getting what they need. 

Hence, why once a few times a semester, an email is sent out to let students know that there will be a trip to campaign to go food shopping. 

“We stop in Urbana and stores in Champaign so students could buy essential items, or things that can’t be bought around here,” he said. “So we made a stop at the African food store in Urbana, and the Korean market in Champaign. We have a ton of people show up for those trips, I mean, we had 35 to 40 something [students] that came this past Saturday.”

As for the office, they do take care of helping students out with any types of potential immigration issues or documents to be certified to work, but there is another section that a lot of people don’t know. 

“Homeland security, which is another component of our job, I think people don’t realize you know, we do a lot of that stuff,” Reinbolt said. “When students get here, we enter their information because CMS (Centers for Medicaid Service) has to keep track of all that information. We also have to make sure that they’re doing what so that they can keep them legal.”

When it comes to tuition, the average cost for an international student is around $28,000 per year. Considering it is a higher price, and excludes the cost of living, the office offers tons of scholarship opportunities to help ease the cost. 

Of course, there is only so many scholarships that can only pay for so much. Luckily for these students, there’s jobs on campus to help those individuals make a little bit of income for themselves. Rienbolt says that 60% of the staff body for the House and Dining Center is made up by the international students. 

Besides ensuring the safety and well-being of the international students, there’s a ton of events that the office hosts three to four special events per month to try and get the student body more engaged. 

Bhanuprathap Bussa, a graduate assistant studying computer technology, says that he really enjoys the events because of all the interactions students get to have with one another. 

“The international students are able to make some really good memories with one another, and it’s a great way to be able to regularly interact with all of the students,” Bussa said. 

Kyle Ignalaga, another grad student studying technology, said that he enjoyed the events that the university hosts, and welcomes all of the students to come and participate. 

“I would definitely recommend other students to participate in different events held across campus, which I understand can be a bit daunting to go to these events , especially when they’re in a location that you’re not familiar with, but I would say that getting [familiar] or getting comfortable with the unexpected is the best thing that can happen to you,” Ignalaga said. 


Adriana Hernandez-Santana can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].