The Office of Institutional Research and Analysis released official data Oct. 4 on the Class of 2017, which reveals that 71 of this year’s freshmen hail from outside the U.S., a 44 percent increase from international students in the class of 2016.
Of the 71 international students, the two most popular countries contributing students to Marquette are China, with 52, and Canada, with five.
Michael Groen, assistant director of the Office of International Education, used preliminary data to estimate a five percent increase in total international enrollment this year, up to 610 students from 582 in 2012. He also estimated representation from 35 countries.
In the past five years, the international student presence rose approximately 165 percent. In 2009, only 27 incoming freshman were international students. The number more than doubled to 60 in 2011.
Groen says there are many factors contributing to the spike in international diversity. Obtaining an undergraduate visa is now easier because of a change in immigration policy. Marquette’s financial aid office has also made more merit-based scholarships, such as the Magis scholarship, available to international students.
For the rapid increase in students from China, Groen cited “long emerging demographic changes.”
The county’s one-child policy has forced parents to “place all of their eggs in one basket,” according to Daniel Meissner, an associate history professor knowledgeable in Chinese culture.
China’s booming economy, especially in the past five years, has allowed many parents to afford sending their child abroad to study.
These circumstances, combined with the perception of America having the world’s best higher education system, may explain the large number of Chinese students on campus.
The OIE, however, is aiming for a global presence on campus, not just a Chinese presence.
Groen recently returned from a 15-day trip that spanned seven countries. Many of the countries were in the Middle East, where a strong alumni base and governmental access to full scholarships has made studying abroad attractive.
“We (in the OIE) really try to connect alumni with prospective students,” Groen said. “The students, and their parents, perk up when they hear of a Marquette-educated electrical engineer in Riyadh, Morocco.”
Though Groen is back on American soil, he is still at work on international recruiting. Webinars and virtual college fairs are just a few of the tactics used to woo students to Milwaukee.
“International students are convinced America has the best colleges,” Groen said. “But my job is to convince them about Marquette.”