Students hailing from several foreign countries have helped place the University in a new group of “Big Ten” schools — the top 10 schools with the largest international student enrollment.
The University was ranked eighth largest international student body in the United States — with a reported 6,382 international students as of 2012 — in the 2011-2012 Open Doors Report released by the Institute of International Education this week.
Kavita Mokha, IIE manager of public affairs, said Open Doors — a publication funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State — aggregates institutional data from across the nation for a greater understanding of the flux of international students on U.S. campuses.
Mokha said approximately 3,000 American institutions self-report their numbers each year to the IIE.
The Open Doors data includes students who have graduated from the University but are still on a student visa, which makes the data vary slightly from the numbers the University publishes on its International Center website, which report only currently enrolled students, according to John Greisberger, the director of the University’s International Center.
Greisberger said there were “no surprises,” referring to the University’s eighth place finish in the category for the second year in a row. Last year, the University had 5,995 total international students according to 2010-2011 IIE data.
Greisberger said a diverse and global education has always been emphasized and implemented at the University, adding that about 40 to 50 percent of American students at the University participate in study abroad programs or some type of academic experience abroad. Greisberger said relationships with international students on campus encourage American students to go abroad.
“Their opportunity for an international education experience comes from meaningful interaction with students from overseas,” Greisberger said.
Enrollment numbers for international students at the University of Southern California topped the list with 9,269 students, followed by the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign and New York University, according to the IIE data. Michigan State University and The Ohio State University, at ninth and 10th respectively, also made appearances in the top 10.
Mokha noted that the highest ranks were held by leading research universities, which tend to boast larger student bodies in general.
University students said they also believe the University’s distinction as an academic and research institution has aided its ability to attract students of a wide range of backgrounds.
College rankings, in particular, were an important facet in the decision-making process for Rackham student Jason Chou, who was born in Taiwan.
“In general, if they look it up, they will see it’s a good school, though they may not have heard about it before,” Chou said.
LSA junior Jiyea Kim said in her native South Korea, students were familiar with the University as a hub for international students.
“Usually people who are interested in study abroad or U.S. study know about Michigan,” Kim said.
Engineering sophomore Mihir Sheth, who hails from India, chose to study at the University instead of regional universities in India for the cooler climate and small-town vibe. He added that he has no regrets with the decision and finds it is easy to relate with other international students on campus.
“People are really friendly here; especially when they’re going through the same things,” Sheth said. “People don’t care if you’re international or not.”