Coming to America: Community Colleges Enrolling More Foreign Students

By Steinberg, Brian | Black Issues in Higher Education, December 28, 1995 | Go to article overview

Coming to America: Community Colleges Enrolling More Foreign Students


Steinberg, Brian, Black Issues in Higher Education


Coming To America: Community Colleges Enrolling More Foreign Students.

The community college student population is comprised of an ever-growing number of foreign students, according to a new report to be released this month. But, surprisingly, officials at two of the community colleges with tile highest foreign student enrollments said their institutions do not actively market programs to this overseas customer base.

Compiled by the New York City-based Institute of International Education (IIE), a not-for-profit educational and cultural exchange organization, the report says more than 452,000 international students attend U.S. colleges and universities, up from 449,749 in the 1993-94 academic year.

The annual report, titled "Open Doors 1994-95: Report on International Educational Exchange," stated the 0.6-percent increase from last year is one of the smallest in the last decade. The report is based on a student census at 2,758 accredited U.S. institutions.

At the two community colleges with large foreign student populations, officials said location was more of a factor in a student's decision to attend than active programs and recruiting.

"We're not recruiting overseas. We're just reacting to what's going on in our community," said Jerry Boyd, who coordinates the Continuing Education/ESL program at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), located in a suburb of Washington, DC -- an area where the federal government, renowned universities and hundreds of foreign embassies create a large international community.

NOVA was ranked second on the IIE report's list of the 25 associate degree programs with the most foreign students. Of the institution's 35,195 enrolled students during the 1994-95 school year, 2,191 were foreign students. The school is second to California's Santa Monica College.

California, New York and Texas are the top three states for foreign students, the report said, although the population at California colleges fell by 1.7 percent from the previous year. Massachusetts institutions had the biggest gain in foreign students, with a 6.6 percent jump to rank fourth on the list.

Making the Transition

Facilities, or the lack thereof, are part of the reason community colleges have taken the indirect approach of letting students discover programs rather than actively targeting potential matriculants. Most community colleges do not have dorms or residence halls for overseas visitors in need of housing.

At Houston Community College (HCC), which also offers several four-year programs at campuses throughout the metropolitan area, matriculants with student visas must have a sponsor before they are accepted into a program, said Pat Williamson, vice chancellor for student affairs. …

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