International Enrollment Rising

FSU sees an increase in international students

by Published: Mar 2, 2011

From all over the world, cul­tur­ally diverse stu­dents are yearn­ing for a Ferris State University edu­ca­tion, where inter­na­tional enroll­ment is on the rise.

From the grad­ual decrease of inter­na­tional stu­dents since 2001, the uni­ver­sity has sparked an increase of inter­na­tional inter­est by re-implementing the Intensive English Program (IEP) in fall 2010. The IEP is a “shel­tered pro­gram for those who don’t speak English,” said Piram Prakasam, direc­tor of International Education.

The optional IEP, which was removed in 2005, restarted with 13 stu­dents in fall 2010 and has risen to 32 stu­dents within one semes­ter. The IEP is three semes­ters long and teaches stu­dents, with no prior knowl­edge, English. This pre­pares inter­na­tional stu­dents with the English skills needed for their desired major and gives them a bet­ter abil­ity to con­nect with domes­tic students.

First year inter­na­tional stu­dent Omar Al Rashidi is enrolled in IEP. He said, “The uni­ver­sity helps all peo­ple out.” Al Rashidi plans to go into the health care pro­gram after he com­pletes the IEP.

The num­ber of exchange stu­dents on cam­pus is less than 2 per­cent of all stu­dents. Some cur­rent domes­tic Ferris stu­dents have yet to expe­ri­ence what inter­na­tional stu­dents may offer. Amber Moffit, a health infor­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy junior at Ferris, said she did not know any inter­na­tional students.

Construction man­age­ment senior Kevin Osbeck said, “There should be more involve­ment with exchange stu­dents, because every­one has some­thing to gain from that experience.”

From Afghanistan to Vietnam, stu­dents choose to earn an edu­ca­tion in Big Rapids, which is bring­ing domes­tic stu­dents new cul­tures, lan­guages, val­ues and cus­toms to inter­act with. The Office of International Education hopes to con­tinue edu­cat­ing an increas­ing num­ber of inter­na­tional stu­dents in order for domes­tic stu­dents to expe­ri­ence diverse cul­tures in one location.

“They can change the domes­tic stu­dent per­spec­tives about American cul­ture or cul­tures around the world with­out going any­where else,” said Kiyoko Metoki, coor­di­na­tor of IEP.

Those who have inter­acted with inter­na­tional stu­dents said they have learned quite a bit just by talk­ing with stu­dents who speak a dif­fer­ent language.

Kayla Blomfield, a fresh­man pre-physical ther­apy stu­dent, refer­ring to her friend from South Korea, said, “If he doesn’t know a spe­cific word, he always asks what it means. It’s so crazy to think about ways to describe a word that it seems like every­one knows.”

The inter­na­tional stu­dents are able to share their lifestyles with the American cul­ture if domes­tic stu­dents, specif­i­cally here in Big Rapids, are will­ing to inter­act with them. Students may find sim­i­lar­i­ties between inter­na­tional and domes­tic Ferris stu­dents, includ­ing a dis­like of the Michigan win­ter weather.

Prakasam pre­dicts the over­all inter­na­tional enroll­ment will increase in fall 2011 to 225 inter­na­tional stu­dents because of the IEP and the other resources the uni­ver­sity offers. This includes dif­fer­ent recruit­ing tech­niques, study abroad pro­grams, guest speak­ers, dia­logues and cre­at­ing new courses for students.

“Your job may be any­where in the world. You must be com­fort­able in trav­el­ing and seek­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. We see it as our respon­si­bil­ity for local stu­dents to be glob­ally com­pat­i­ble,” Prakasam said.

For a list­ing of inter­na­tional events on cam­pus, visit the cam­pus cal­en­dar online or con­tact the Office of International Education at ext. 2450 for more infor­ma­tion. n