Indiana State University Newsroom

International student enrollment at Indiana State highest in nearly 40 years

September 30, 2013

When Indiana State University senior Nguyet Nguyen was first encouraged to participate in the Homecoming parade last fall, she didn't know what to expect.

The transfer student from Vietnam wore traditional clothing from her home country as way to teach about her culture, and had such a good time that she is participating again this year - as a member of the Homecoming committee.

International students' memorable experiences and expanded global outreach has led Indiana State's international student enrollment to reach its highest level in nearly four decades. The university this fall welcomed 926 international students to campus, a more than 250-student increase from last fall. More than 600 undergraduate and 300 graduate students from 72 countries are studying at Indiana State this semester, the highest since the 1970s.

"I didn't think Indiana State would have so many international students when I came here," said Nguyen, who transferred to Indiana State from a college in Illinois and received a scholarship to attend ISU. "It's a lot, so it's really amazing."

The increase in international students partly reflects the positive experience that students such as Nguyen are having at Indiana State and the Wabash Valley, said Chis McGrew, director of ISU's Center for Global Engagement, which supports the university's international students.

"They're having a good experience with faculty, and the students are successfully finishing their degrees," McGrew said. "We're getting a lot of transfer students from other universities around the country because the experience has been very positive for a lot of students here."

Students who enjoy their time at Indiana State are spreading the word and encouraging more people to study at ISU, he added. Saudi Arabia, India, China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are the countries with the highest number of students at Indiana State. The increase in international students has helped to diversify Indiana State's student body, McGrew said.

"Hopefully, our students who are from the United States, and especially from Indiana, are engaging more with their international student colleagues," he said. "This is just one of the many ways that we prepare students for an increasingly global society."

Indiana State received a sudden increase in first-year international students arriving on campus to start coursework in the summer, rather than the fall. At the same time, the university was launching University College, a new initiative introduced to incoming first-year students that features programming and services intended to foster student success, retention and graduation.

University College counselors helped the incoming international students plan and enroll in classes. Several university departments worked with the Center for Global Engagement to add extra sections for classes to satisfy the unexpected increase in demand, McGrew said.

"Generally, first-time international freshmen don't come during the summer. It's a very difficult time to start because the classes are shorter," McGrew added. "It was a difficult adjustment, but many people in the university pulled together and helped the students when they arrived here."

Returning students also benefit from events and activities organized by the Center for Global Engagement. The office organizes events ranging from coffee hours, which are conducted several times a month and feature students from different countries talking about their national customs while having tea or coffee available for attendees, to leadership development conferences.

"I really appreciate the fact that the international office tries to make so many programs for students" to learn and interact, Nguyen said.

Some international students also benefit from classes at Interlink Language Center, which provides English language and writing classes. The courses also help teach international students about American culture and life while allowing them to become part of the Indiana State community before enrolling in college coursework.

"We're really excited about the growing number of students," McGrew said. "There was a lot of work in the Center for Global Engagement office in working with students' applications, getting immigration documents issued and then welcoming the students here. Our next step is to make sure that they are successful."

While the number of international students at Indiana State has been steadily increasing in recent years, the university is extending its outreach, with the goal of increasing communication to perspective students in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

"It is important for our students to be prepared to live and work in a global society," university President Dan Bradley said. "Our international students bring an important perspective to our campus, which benefits all of our students and our community."

Photo: students at Indiana State University from countries around the world marching during the Homecoming parade last fall. This semester, Indiana State welcomed more than 600 undergraduate and 300 graduate students from 72 countries to campus, the highest number since the 1970s.

Photo: (ISU/Rachel Keyes)Attendees talking at an international awards banquet at Indiana State University this spring. This fall, Indiana State welcomed 926 returning and first-year international students from around the world onto campus, which is the highest international student enrollment since the 1970s.

Photo: (ISU/Rachel Keyes) Several members of Yes Women talk with another attendee at the international awards banquet at Indiana State University earlier this spring. The group boasts members who are women from multiple countries pursuing their master's and doctoral degrees who also have taken on leadership roles in different organizations. As international student enrollment at Indiana State has increased, university officials hope it will lead to greater interactions and collaborations among students from different countries and domestic students.

Photo: (ISU/Sam Barnes)Students participate in a team-building exercise during a team-building event at the ISU field campus in Brazil, Ind. About 40 international and domestic students from Indiana State participated in the event. Different programs exist to give international and domestic students a chance to interact and learn from each other.

Contact: Chris McGrew, director, Center for Global Engagement, Indiana State University, 812-237- or

Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or

Story Highlights

International students' memorable experiences and expanded global outreach has led Indiana State's international student enrollment to reach its highest level in nearly four decades. The university this fall welcomed 926 international students to campus.

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