|Pictured are some of the more than 400 international students attending EIU this fall.|
Individuals from more than 40 countries compose what Eastern Illinois University officials say will be another record-breaking international student enrollment for the institution.
Bill Elliott, interim director, International Students and Scholars, said the department will see a significant increase from the 291 international students enrolled a year ago. While exact numbers won't be official until the university releases its Fall 2016 10th day enrollment figures in early September, projections indicate an enrollment of well over 400 international students, representing both undergraduate and graduate students.
“Certainly, we’ve put forth an aggressive international engagement effort,” Elliott said. “But I believe the true key to our success has been the campus community working so well together.”
In addition to the OISS staff who “are to be congratulated for all the hard work and effort they’ve expended on behalf of the university,” faculty and staff throughout campus have worked collaboratively to establish a strategic plan specifically designed to grow the international student body.
“While faculty have developed attractive academic programs to bring these students to Eastern, others on our campus – Housing and Dining, New Student Programs, and more – have identified and implemented programs of their own that we believe will make these students feel comfortable and welcomed at the university,” Elliott said.
“We wanted to establish Eastern Illinois University as a premier destination for international students wishing to study in the United States, and we have come a long way in meeting that goal,” he added.
The offer of an athletic scholarship in golf is what brought EIU to the attention of Oscar Borda, a 24-year-old graduate student from Brazil. However, it was his online research on the university and the community that cinched the deal.
He arrived nearly five years ago as a sophomore finance major. His time at EIU will end in December when he earns his graduate degree in sports administration.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here,” Borda said. “I’ve been treated equally among my fellow students and we’ve always gotten along well. I’ve also been made to feel welcome by members of the Charleston and Mattoon communities.”
He’s also noticed that people are “fascinated to meet an international person.” He enjoys the good feeling associated with sharing his story and background with others.
Elliott acknowledged that’s a common reaction, which is why he believes the international students themselves are not the only ones who benefit from their opportunity to study at EIU.
“It’s good for Eastern as a whole,” Elliott said. “In addition to introducing different cultures to our campus community, these visiting students bring a completely new perspective to the classroom. Their presence is a big boost for our commitment to diversity for all students.”
While 41 countries are represented by Fall 2016 students, those with the largest EIU enrollment are India, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, China, Nepal and Nigeria.