Saudi Arabia, China funnel students to Miami
Universities in Miami-Dade have seen foreign student numbers increase as an overall trend. Saudi Arabia, China, Venezuela and Colombia are the countries that most international students come from in the area.
The latest enrollment numbers from University of Miami show that 2,319 international students make up 14% of the 16,172 total students.
The statistics come from students who are on a visa, and do not include foreign-born students who are US residents or citizens, said Mark Reid, associate dean of enrollment management and executive director of international admission at the University of Miami.
The recruitment of foreign students has increased over the past five years, he said.
“The growth has been phenomenal — 65% at the undergraduate level and 35% at the graduate level. It’s not unique to UM, it’s happening to many research universities across the country,” Mr. Reid said.
Regarding the nations that predominate, he said the total from Brazil has been on the rise, as well as Kuwait, mostly due to scholarships. UM has also seen a rebound from Panama and Colombia, and a decline from Venezuela, which has been one of the leading countries in past years, Mr. Reid said.
Are international students “more profitable” than local students?
“Most are paying their own way with limited scholarships, with little assistance,” Mr. Reid said. “A full-paying student is an important resource.”
Until recently, Barry University had been consistently ranked in US News and World Report’s list of the most diverse universities in the nation, said Claudia Biscardi, manager of Barry’s International and Multicultural Programs. Barry’s last ranking on that list came in the 2010 edition and was from the 2009 academic year.
“International student numbers were decreasing in 2010, but I have seen an increase in the past two years,” she said.
According to the most recent data — from the fall of 2012 — Barry has 428 international students in its total of 9,370: 306 are undergraduate, 114 are graduate and 24 are doctoral students. International students represent 4% of the total student body at Barry.
The top three countries that Barry University currently receives international students from are Saudi Arabia, the Bahamas and Venezuela, with 104, 39 and 27 students enrolled from each respectively.
In terms of profitability, Ms. Biscardi says that at Barry foreign students pay the same tuition as students from the US. “The only difference is that the international students can’t apply for financial aid,” she said.
That is also the case at St. Thomas University, which is private as well.
“They pay the same tuition rate [as] any other student; we want to give them affordability,” said Gregory Chan, provost at St. Thomas. “The only difference is that they are not eligible to get financial aid from the government, but depending on their academic standing they can apply for a scholarship at our school.”
St. Thomas has a very internationalized campus, Dr. Chan said, which includes mostly students from Spanish-speaking and Latin American countries, Eastern Europe — especially Russia and Croatia — and China.
The biggest foreign student growth that St. Thomas has seen is from China in the past three years due to links the school has developed with 12 Chinese universities, Mr. Chan said.
The number of international students has increased in St. Thomas. The institutional research department stated that in the fiscal year that ended in June 2012, the university had 312 foreign students of a 5,250 total, which translates into 5.9% of the student population. By June this year the enrollment of foreign students had reached 6.6%.
Statistics are very similar at Florida International University. Foreign students are about 6% of the student population at FIU, which is about 50,000 said Ana Sippin, director of international student and scholar services.
“It has been increasing slightly, especially at the doctoral level,” she said.
Of the 3,018 international students that Florida International University received last fall, most came from China, Venezuela, India, Saudi Arabia and Colombia, in that order.
“Venezuela moved up to number two, which India usually held. Colombia moved down, and we’re getting more students from Iran at the graduate level,” Ms. Sippin said.
According to university data, the top fields of study that foreign students go into at FIU are business, management and marketing; engineering; social sciences; computer, information, sciences and support services; biological and biomedical sciences; physical sciences; health services; communication and journalism, and education.