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September 26, 2003

International student numbers reflect fall enrollment shifts

by Linda Charles
Fewer international undergraduate students are enrolled at Iowa State this fall. However, numbers are up among international graduate students.

Dennis Peterson, director of International Education Services, said the total number of international undergraduates dropped by 182, while total graduate student enrollment increased by 73 students from last year.

However, 53 fewer new international undergraduate and 14 fewer new graduate students enrolled at Iowa State this year.

One surprise is a decrease in new students from South Korea, said Pat Parker, assistant director of admissions.

Parker speculated the 22-student drop might be the result of new federal regulations that slowed electronic transmission of visa forms and caused confusion with the American consulate in South Korea over uploading that information.

"South Korea was a little slow in getting things figured out, and I had lots of phone calls and e-mails from students there," Parker said.

Equally surprising is a dramatic increase in graduate applications from China. Last year, the university received 1,618 graduate applications from China; this year it received 2,405, Parker said.

Graduate enrollment among students from India decreased by 34 students this year, with just 64 new Indian students on campus this fall.

Also down this year is the number of undeclared graduate students. Parker attributes the decrease to the new federal regulation that prevents dependents of international students from attending the university full time. (Dependents are allowed to take part-time classes for recreational purposes only.)

Parker also noted there had been concern about whether the federal government would allow students whose areas fell on the federal "technology alert list" to attend the university.

"Contrary to our assumption, the list didn't seem to hurt students' chances of attending Iowa State," she said. For example, architecture, which is on the list, increased its graduate students by four, to a total of six.

Parker said applications from international undergraduate students dropped by 30 percent this fall. The Office of Admissions plans to follow up to determine if students did not apply because of financial difficulties, visa problems, safety concerns or improved educational opportunities in their home countries. Peterson mentioned that Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom are making it easier for international students to enroll at their universities, while the United States is making it more difficult.

As was the case last year, a few international students haven't been able to obtain their visas yet, but that has not been a major problem this year, Peterson said. However, many students have faced significant delays.

Enrollment statistics

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