MIHO Nakya laughs when she says that many American students in
her Boston University (BU) classes talk like machine guns. "In
Japan, silence is a sign of respect for the teacher," she says.
"Questions are seen as interruptions."
Welcome to garrulous BU, the leader among American universities
for encouraging a lively blend of cultural differences in and out
of classrooms. Some 4,700 international students are now enrolled
at BU -- the highest number at any college or university in the
country, according to a report from the Institute for International
"International students have been an essential component of BU
for decades," says Donald Ross, director of the international
students and scholars office at BU, where total university
enrollment is about 28,000.
Second to BU is the University of Southern California, with
about 4,200 international students. The University of Wisconsin at
Madison and the University of Texas at Austin are next, with
foreign enrollments of around 4,000 each.
What continues to draw foreign students to the United States,
Mr. Ross says, is the undiminished reputation of US higher
education, particularly in business and science. Add the lure of
experiencing Western culture firsthand and a cosmopolitan, urban
campus like BU, with a proven interest in foreign students, and it
is not a hard sell to qualified students.
"The magic lure of the US is still there among foreign
students," Ross says, "and because English is the lingua franca of
the world, people want to come to the US to study."
Unlike any other American university, BU aggressively recruits
students through recruitment offices in eight regions: Japan, Hong
Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Spain, and
Britain. BU undergraduate admissions representatives also tour the
world seeking students.
Other major universities, avoiding the costs of offices in
foreign lands, regularly send recruiters abroad. Or they use an
informal alumni network in countries for recruitment.
"Most of the foreign students that come to BU," says Ross, "are
from personal referrals, from alumni who had a good experience here
and make recommendations to sons and daughters of friends." Japan,
Korea, Taiwan, and India send the most students to BU. "More Asian
students are coming now because business is doing well there now,"
These undergraduate sons and daughters are usually from wealthy
families. Tuition at BU is $19,000, and room and board is $7,000.
Add travel costs, living expenses, clothing, etc., and total costs
for a year can be $30,000 and above. Only four undergraduate
foreign students receive financial aid, but 600 graduate students
have financial support.
In compliance with US immigration policy, BU and other
universities require documentation from students that they have the
resources to complete a year. …