Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Planning Housing for International Students: A Case Study from Oregon State University

Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Planning Housing for International Students: A Case Study from Oregon State University

Article excerpt

OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY (OSU) PARTNERED WITH INTO University Partnerships (IUP) to build the new International Living-Learning Center (ILLC), home of the Global Village living-learning community, in order to attract international students to its campus. The ILLC opened in September 2011 after a 22-month programming, design, and construction process. The $52 million mixed-use facility houses 312 students in a 151,000-square-foot building that includes academic, dining, and office space. The year before it opened, OSU's international student enrollment was 1,548 students. The year after it opened, international student enrollment at OSU jumped to 2,362 students. The new ILLC has helped the university reach its enrollment goals even as it adapts to challenges caused by high room rates, the design of particular spaces, and cultural factors that impede student interaction. This article provides a comprehensive review of the planning process, both for the housing facility and for the living-learning community's residential programming.

U.S. postsecondary institutions are paying increased attention to international student enrollment for a variety of reasons. First, there is the dramatic increase in international student enrollment numbers. In 2002, there were 586,323 international students attending U.S. colleges and universities. By fall 2012, this number had increased to 819,644 (Institute of International Education 2014). This 43 percent increase in enrollments over the course of a decade is accompanied by an increased focus within the United States on the importance of preparing college students for a global economy. The ability to understand and communicate with people of different cultures is increasingly recognized as an essential skill in the 21st-century marketplace. Lastly, in an era of decreasing state support for higher education, it is important to note that international students usually pay full price at public institutions. Therefore, U.S. schools have begun to allocate increased resources to international student recruitment and retention.

All of these factors played into OSU's strategic commitment to, in the words of OSU Provost Dr. Sabah Randhawa, "comprehensive internationalization" (Oregon State University, n.d., p. 1). OSU is a 28,886-student flagship public land-, sea-, and space-grant research university located in Corvallis, Oregon (figure 1). Diversity is one of the university's five core values, along with accountability, respect, integrity, and social responsibility. One of the themes of the 2004 OSU strategic plan was creating "an international presence through collaborative partnerships that enhance future global opportunities for education, research, and development, and that enable a better understanding of the multicultural world in which our future graduates will live and work" (Oregon State University 2004, p. 6). The university also planned on "raising the proportion of non-resident students in the student mix" (Oregon State University 2009, p. 6), a goal that encompassed both out-of-state and international students. Planning for an increase in international student enrollment was an explicit high-level university priority.

Prospects for enrolling more international students were improved by the partnership with IUP that OSU had established in 2008. IUP is a private company from the United Kingdom that forms public-private partnerships with universities to increase their international student enrollments. OSU was IUP's first partnership with an American university, so the company was determined to make the relationship a model for future successes. The partnership moved OSU closer to its comprehensive internationalization goals and created a stakeholder group that was deeply invested in creating a showcase facility for INTO OSU's international initiatives. However, when the Phase II strategic plan update appeared in 2009, it noted that OSU was still falling short of its nonresident student recruitment goals. …

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