Behind The Trend: An Increasing Number Of Foreign Students Attending N.H. Colleges

May 7, 2014

Credit Via UNH website

A 2013 report says 3,095 international students pursued higher education in New Hampshire; that was up 6.3 percent from the previous year. That report also estimates the foreign student expenditure in the state at $103 million dollars. To get an idea about the trend and what it means for schools both here and nationally, I spoke with Karin Fischer, a senior writer at the Chronicle of Higher Education. She covers international education issues.  

The number of international students that have come to U.S. colleges and universities has gone way up in recent years. Why?

We’re seeing a lot more undergraduates… that’s different than in the past when a lot of graduate students typically came. They’re coming predominately from Asia, particularly China, for two reasons. One is a baby boom in more middle class families, and they don’t have enough capacity in their own universities. On the American side, there’s been a greater interest in having these students come because they are a way to make campuses more international and globally minded, but also because these students pay their own way. 

They often get full tuition rates from these students, don’t they? 

Yes- for a public university this is as if a student is coming from out of state, and it’s pretty uncommon for international students to get much in the way of financial aid, so they are mostly paying full price. 

How are schools marketing themselves overseas? 

I think marketing is a good word to use because we’re talking about colleges that just weren’t enrolling large numbers of international students at all suddenly being very interested it… so they have to make a name for themselves… so you them going to these enormous college fairs… I’ve been to fairs in Chinese cities and Indian Cities that have thousands and thousands of students… just being bombarded really by these colleges. American colleges also go visit high schools in foreign countries, they build relationships with college councilors… and they also work with paid recruiters to help bring students to their campuses. 

Presumably putting a lot of resources into doing that… 

It’s not cheap, but the colleges figure even if they can get a handful of full- paid students it more than offsets the cost of recruitment and marketing. 

What does it mean for the economy? 

There’s data from the Association of International Educators that has a cost analysis each year of the amount of money that international students bring into the economy… it can be particularly localized to college towns while the students are in college… there are all sorts of businesses that are sprouting up cater to them… a certain number of these students do stay afterward and work in the U.S. You’re seeing (students) at Liberal Arts colleges that frankly don’t even have a lot of name ID here in the states because they are the colleges that are spending time and effort to go abroad and recruit students.  

You can listen to the radio version of my conversation with Karin right here: