A recent study conducted by the Institute of International Education shows that the University is a popular destination for foreign students, ranking at No. 6 on a list of U.S. colleges with the most international students.

With a total of 5,790 international students for the 2008-2009 academic year, the University of Michigan places just behind Purdue University with 6,136, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with 6,570 and Columbia University with 6,685. The University of Southern California and New York University topped the rankings with 7,482 and 6,761 students, respectively.

John Greisberger, director of the University’s International Center, said that while these numbers are accurate, they differ slightly from the University’s numbers in that they include students who have graduated from the University but still reside in the United States. According to data from the International Center, 4,574 undergraduate, graduate and graduate professional international students were enrolled at the University for the 2008-2009 academic year.

A Nov. 16 article in The New York Times stated that there were a total of 671,616 international students at U.S. universities for the 2008-2009 academic year, an increase of 8 percent from the previous school year.

This trend holds true for the University of Michigan, Greisberger said.

Unofficial data from the International Center shows that there are about 300 more international students enrolled at the University for the fall 2009 semester when compared to the year before, an increase of 9.4 percent.

Greisberger said international enrollment numbers have been fairly level for the past few years, and that this year’s dramatic increase is “big news” for the University.

Nationally, the country that sends the most students to the United States. is India. However, at the University, China leads the pack. Greisberger reported that 1,277 students are from China, followed by India with 774 and South Korea with 770, though those numbers are unofficial.

When asked why he believed so many international students choose to come to Ann Arbor, Greisberger pointed to the University’s “worldwide reputation for academic excellence,” as well as the services and programs the University provides to its international students.

Through the International Center, foreign students are encouraged to interact with both U.S. and other international students, while also receiving assistance opening a bank account, applying for a social security number and learning how to register for classes.

“We take seriously the responsibility to help international students feel integrated in campus life,” Greisberger said. “To not just be successful in the classroom but to be successful outside the classroom.”

Janet Weiss, vice provost and dean of Rackham Graduate School, added in an e-mail interview that there are many “loyal” Rackham alumni around the world who “encourage students from their countries to come to Michigan.”

As much as the University has to offer its international students, Weiss emphasized the tremendous impact those students have on the University.

“(International graduate students) are very talented and highly motivated students, who enrich the intellectual and research environment for everyone who works with them,” Weiss said.

She also noted that these students can often assist University faculty in strengthening ties with faculty in their home countries, making the University more global in its reach.

Greisberger commended the ability of international students to bring a global perspective to the University and its students, especially those unable to study abroad.

“I think the international students here at U of M provide our domestic students who did not have the opportunity to go abroad to have a really meaningful cross-cultural and intercultural experience right here on campus,” he said.

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