Broward College last year hired its first outreach coordinator to recruit and assist international students, and is lowering its out-of-state tuition rate for online classes to attract those studying from abroad.
Florida International University is recruiting in China, Venezuela and India, among other places, while the University of Central Florida hopes to double its international student population as it opens a global center. The University of Florida has created a new director position to focus on international undergraduate recruitment and recently began its search to fill that job.
The schools acknowledge the move means more money because international students pay more than Florida residents — at some schools more than three times in-state tuition.
“We pay way more than average, so economically it’s a good thing for the school, and we add a little diversity,” said Maria Zuniga, an FIU student from Nicaragua.
FIU uses its proximity to Miami as a drawing card, said Sarah Noppen, associate director for international recruitment.
“When students think of coming to the U.S., they often think of Miami,” she said. “They may have friends or relatives here. When you look even further to India or the Middle East, students are often looking for places that have a warm climate.”
At Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, new President John Kelly is setting his priorities now, said university spokesman Joshua Glanzer.
“President Kelly has often talked about the importance of diversity and expanding our reach, so it is likely that this will be addressed in his plan that he will be rolling out this year,” Glanzer said.
Across Florida and the nation, the number of international students has risen to a record high of 819,644 students last school year. While those students still make up less than 4 percent of total enrollment, their numbers are 40 percent higher than a decade ago, according to the non-profit Institute of International Education.
Nearly half arriving in Florida come from one of five countries — China, India, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Venezuela.
They bring with them tens of millions of dollars for tuition, housing, food and other expenses. Foreign students contributed an estimated $24 billion to the U.S. economy in 2012-13, including $945 million in Florida, according to an organization known as NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
In other parts of the country, parents and others have complained about colleges boosting international enrollment because of worries about supplanting local students.
Florida’s public university system has a cap, however, on out-of-state enrollment. Ninety percent of students systemwide must be Floridians. Last school year, 91 percent were from the Sunshine State, state records show.
Broward College had been trying to attract more international students for its online program but found its costs were a deterrent. The school got permission from the state last year to lower its price from $368 a credit hour to $151, or from $11,000 to $4,500 for a full-time student.
“We thought if we set a lower tuition point, we would attract students who could not otherwise afford it,” said David Moore, assistant vice president for international education.
He said it could be ideal for students who want to graduate from an American university but can’t afford to spend four years in the United States. The college also has small campuses in four locations abroad (Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Peru and Ecuador), where tuition and fees are cheaper than they’d pay in Florida.
UCF plans to add as many as 1,200 international students annually by 2018. Today, the school has about 2,100 foreign students and expects to eventually have 5,000, said Paul Lartonoix, an assistant vice provost.
Foreign students will be recruited as freshmen and will attend classes as part of UCF’s new “Global Achievement Academy.”
UF, which aims to become one of the nation’s Top 10 public universities, hopes to draw in more of the world’s brightest undergraduates, said Leonardo Villalon, dean of UF’s International Center.
“We’re trying to attract the best students we can get here,” he said.
Date: April 10th, 2014