Record-breaking diversity a result of international students

The University welcomed its most diverse freshman class this fall. But what seems to be driving diversity at the University is not an increase in traditional minority students from the United States, but rather an increase in international students.

This year the University reached its goal of having 8 percent of the student body come from outside the United States. International students enrolled at the University totaled more than 2,000 this fall — more than both Latino and African-American students combined.

The number of international students in the 2011 freshman class at the University has increased by 77 percent since fall 2007. International students accounted for 7.5 percent of the student population last year, and this year they represented 8.3 percent.

African-American students made up 1.8 percent of the student population in 2010. That number remained the same for fall 2011. Latinos made up 5.8 percent of the student body this fall, compared to 4.9 percent last year.

Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Roger Thompson said the University doesn’t have a high number of minorities from the United States because Oregon is not a particularly diverse state. However, Thompson said he is proud of the diverse freshman class.

“Two percent of our freshman class is African-American. That’s not a big number, but it’s more than the number of blacks in the state of Oregon,” he said. African-Americans made up 1.8 percent of Oregon’s population compared to 12.6 percent of the national population according to 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data. @@[email protected]@

Thompson said the University is increasing recruitment efforts in Midwestern and eastern states to improve its domestic minority numbers. Recruiters currently attract students mainly from Washington, California, Colorado and Nevada — states with relatively high Latino populations but fairly low African-American populations.

Assistant Director of Admissions for International Recruitment Robert Hardin said affordability is another reason the University hasn’t seen a large increase in minority students from the United States.@@[email protected]@

“We’ve had to go out of the state and deal with out-of-state tuition costs,” Hardin said. “It’s often difficult for minorities to pay this, so we’re looking for new ways.”

The average yearly total cost at the University for an out-of-state U.S. resident is about $40,701. The average international student pays $41, 748 a year@@[email protected]@, or twice the amount that an average in-state resident pays.@@[email protected]@

“Yes, out-of-state tuition is one of the main reasons to recruit international students,” said Magid Shirzadegan, director of international student and scholar services. He said it’s easy to recruit students from East Asia, especially China, because they can afford the high costs. But Hardin disagreed.

“Money is not at all a consideration,” Hardin said. “It’s a lot cheaper to fly to Los Angeles than Indonesia. It would be much cheaper for the University to recruit students within the United States.”

Hardin said having international students on campus gives students from the United States opportunities to communicate with people from different countries and help students prepare to work in a global economy.

But getting American and international students to communicate remains a challenge. Shirzadegan said the University does not have enough resources or programs to help international students mingle with American students.

“In dorms, students are not communicating with international students. American students just see that these people are here,” Shirzadegan said.

Though Hardin said it’s common for Universities to have communication issues between international students and American students, Shirzadegan said it’s a problem if the University continues its recruiting efforts without funding programs so students can benefit from having international students on campus.

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