The number of international students studying in the United States increased for the first time since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks during the 2006-2007 academic year, according to a report released yesterday.
With 5,429 foreign students studying here, the University of Michigan was the sixth-most popular school for international students in the country.
The report, issued by the Institute for International Education, cited a 10.2 percent increase in the number of student visas issued last year compared with the previous year.
According to John Greisberger, director of the University’s International Center, which works with international students coming to the University and U.S. residents studying abroad, the increases are due to the greater efficiency by the government and the attractiveness of studying at a university with a strong reputation.
“This latest IIE report is showing that we’re basically back where we were in 2001 and 2002,” Greisberger said. “Over the past five years, it seems to have improved in terms of the processing of visas, where after 9/11 there was a significant slow down and that was taken on part of the State Department which chose to interview every entering visa.”
Greisberger said international students choose the University of Michigan for its reputation as a major research university and its reasonable tuition compared to other prestigious schools.
He said that even though international undergraduate and graduate students are charged out-of-state tuition like anyone outside of Michigan, the University’s cost compared to those of some reputable private universities makes it more desirable.
“The cost makes a big difference, and a school like Michigan has a lot of support for graduate students to do research and teach,” Greisberger said. “If you’re an undergraduate, I think you look at the price tag at Michigan versus a private institution and you look at the rankings and you say, ‘Yeah it’s in Michigan, but it’s going to cost me less.’ “
That is exactly what LSA sophomore Erina Uozumi said she was thinking about while choosing schools. Uozumi attended school in El Salvador and applied to a number of private universities in the United States, hoping to attend a school with strong music and political science programs.
“If I’m not an American student, you don’t get financial aid,” said Uozumi, who also plans to study abroad in England or China in the future. “Michigan was the cheapest. I didn’t have a first choice or a second choice. It wasn’t such a big factor, but if you’re thinking about three schools and one is the cheapest, you’re going to say ‘OK, that school would be a good idea.’ “
The report also said that the University had the 15th-most number of students studying abroad. More that 1,700 students went abroad last year.
Carol Dickerman, director of the University’s Office of International Programs, said the survey’s findings about study abroad programs show how important the programs are to college students.
“Students think that this is something that they want to do while they’re a Michigan undergrad,” Dickerman said.
Britain, Italy and Spain are the most popular sites for studying abroad, according to Dickerman. She said that not as many students study in Japan or China, even though Japanese and Chinese are popular languages at the University. She also said the new study abroad programs in Turkey and at the American University in Cairo, Egypt are growing in popularity.
“These are not only trends here at Michigan – these are national trends,” Dickerman said.