International population at UM still strong

If it seems as though students from all cultures and backgrounds come to the University of Miami, it may be because international students make up about 10 percent of the student population.

Over 1,500 international students, both undergraduate and graduate, from 115 different countries are currently studying and conducting research at UM. The Office of International Admission travels around the globe to attract the top international students.

The country with the largest representation of international students at UM is the People’s Republic of China, with 199 students registered as of Fall 2008.  That is the largest number of Chinese students ever at the university and a large increase from the 153 students from China enrolled in Fall 2007. Another increase in enrollment of students from China is expected in the fall of 2009.

“There are a lot of universities that are experiencing an increase in applications from China,” said Mark G. Reid, the executive director of International Admission. “We’ve been traveling there twice a year for seven years, and we just held receptions in four cities in China a couple of weeks ago, so we’ve positioned ourselves to be able to take advantage of that flow of students to the U.S.”

UM also has a strong representation from Latin American and Caribbean countries. But International Admissions has seen a decrease in the number of applications from countries such as Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil.

“Unfortunately it seems as though the global downturn has really hit Latin America and the Caribbean very hard,” Reid said. “I think they are more tied to the U.S. dollar than other parts of the world.”

The Office of International Admissions has also experienced a noticeable increase in scholarship inquiries.

“We award a lot of scholarships, but even so, students are saying it’s very helpful but it may not be enough to get me to the University of Miami,” Reid said. “They are starting to look more closely at the bottom line of what it costs to attend the University of Miami.”

Despite the economic issues, the UM has followed the recent national trend in increasing numbers of enrolled international students.

“After [Sept. 11] our numbers dropped off precipitously and went on a downward trend for about five years,” Reid said. “Currently we are in an upward trend in terms of enrollment numbers and we are well positioned to have another good year in Fall 2009.”

The major colleges of study for international students are business, engineering, and Arts & Sciences.

“There are a lot of international students in the health fields so we have many students in the College of Arts & Sciences,” Reid said. “And I think we’re going to see a big jump in engineering this year from international students because the job market in engineering is very solid.”

International students are well-represented in terms of cultural student clubs at UM, with one exception. There is currently no European student organization despite a strong European student presence at UM.

“In the past we’ve had a French club and a Scandinavian club but they have dropped off,” said Pamela Jackson, the president of COISO Council of International Students and Organizations.  “The European students tend to not get involved that much. I really feel that it’s a cultural thing, because in Europe student activities and clubs are not a cool thing to do.”
Country with the largest number of students enrolled in UM as of Fall 2008
China – 199
Venezuela – 90
Canada – 75
India – 74
Colombia – 60

According to the Institute of International Education, India has the highest number of total students enrolled in U.S. schools followed by China.