The University at Albany continues to draw greater numbers of international students to its cosmopolitan campus. There are 1,067 international students on campus this academic year, 61 more than last year, an increase of 6 percent, according to Peg Reich, director of International Student Services in the Office of International Education. In addition, there are 58 students enrolled in the University's Intensive English Language Program (IELP). The total number of countries represented has grown to 96 (from 84 last year).
From left, Saniye Ulukaya, Vice President for Student Success James Anderson, Interim Vice Provost for International Education Ray Bromley, and Zeynep Kocer at a recent reception for new international students and students returning from study abroad. Ulukaya and Kocer are international students from Turkey. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)
Interim Vice Provost for International Education Ray Bromley said international student numbers at the University have "held up well, and we're very pleased at the recent increase."
Recruiting international students to U.S. universities has been difficult since 9/11, and Homeland Security procedures have made it tougher for international students to obtain visas to study in the United States. At the same time, other countries that compete with the U.S. for international students, including Australia and Great Britain, have promoted international student recruitment, drawing many potential applicants away.
As in previous years, the greatest number of students at UAlbany continues to come from Asia (68.6 percent), followed by Europe (18.3 percent), Africa, (4 percent), North America (3.3 percent), the Middle East (2 percent), South America (1.9 percent), Central America and the Caribbean (1.9 percent), and Australia (.1 percent).
An important part of the mix at UAlbany is the growing number of international students who are undergraduates, Reich said. Thanks to recruiting efforts on the part of John Pomeroy in Undergraduate Admissions, this number grew from 285 in Fall 2005 (28 percent of the total) to 334 (or 31 percent) in Fall 2006, an increase of 49 students.
Bromley said international students "bring much-needed talent and expertise in fields where there aren't sufficient U.S. specialists, and they contribute to the diversity and multicultural environment that is essential to any great university."
The Top 10 countries represented at UAlbany this year are: Korea (215), China (199), India (107), Japan (96), Taiwan (42), U.K. (32), Canada (30), Turkey (30), Pakistan (22), and Russia (14).
Saniye Ulukaya, a student from Istanbul, Turkey, attended a recent reception for new international students and newly-returned study abroad students in the University Art Museum. Ulukaya knew about the University at Albany because her brother is an alumnus. "I heard from him that this University is very good for educational life. When I was in Istanbul, I used to search this University on the Internet," she said. "Another reason for choosing UAlbany is my brother has been living in Albany for nine years. I thought that studying at UAlbany would be good for me. I am happy being here." She is studying English as a Second Language in the IELP on campus.
"I have been in Albany for only four months, but my English is improving every day. My teachers help me. They are very helpful to us. After this program, I want to study pharmacy," she said.
Another new student who attended the reception, , Zeynep Kocer of Bursa, Turkey, heard about UAlbany from a family friend. Kocer is in IELP too, which is full-time but non-degree and non-credit- bearing. She would like to enter the University as a freshman.
"I thought it would be hard to adjust to living here, but it wasn't, because Americans have been very friendly," Kocer said. "I worried that after 9/11, Americans would have negative feelings towards Muslims. However, that hasn't been the case. Everyone has been friendly, and I've become close friends with my American neighbors."
Kocer's biggest adjustment? Finding a place to pray. "Muslims carry around a prayer mat in order to pray five times a day. In Turkey, there is always a convenient place to pray, but in the U.S., it can be hard to find a place – for example, if you are shopping at Crossgates," she said.
The University welcomed 346 new international students to campus this fall: 48 are freshmen; 42, transfer students; and another 66, undergraduate exchange students. At the graduate level, there are 190 new international students, including 17 exchange students. Among new and returning graduate students, there are 17 Fulbright scholars (15 students and two foreign language teaching assistants). There are also a number of Fogarty Fellows in Public Health and Muskie Fellows in Public Health and Public Administration.
Reich said her office's goals this academic year "are to provide improved service to new international students and visiting scholars in their search for off-campus housing, and to offer more ways for international students to connect to the community at large, through host families, speaking to school and community groups, and taking field trips to sites of interest in the region."