About 2,100 international students attend Colorado’s two largest
universities. International students at CSU and the University of
Colorado-Boulder only account for 3.8 and 3.7 percent of the
For the fall 2003 semester, CSU hosted 950 students from 90
countries and the University of Colorado-Boulder has 1,183 enrolled
The top three countries with students enrolled at CSU are India,
the People’s Republic of China and South Korea with 175, 113 and
“Most international students do extensive study of the programs
schools they apply, especially the specialization that they
would like to
pursue,” said Sangita Kalarickal, a doctorate student in physics
from India, in an e-mail. “Then, depending on which school offers
them the most lucrative program, transfer of credits, funding,
etc., they make their choice.”
Both universities attribute their academic programs and
community support as main reasons international students are
choosing to study at their schools.
However, for CU the difficulty of obtaining a visa has
overshadowed the possibilities the school holds. As a result, the
number of international students enrolled at CU has dropped 6.7
percent from fall 2002, according to the CU Office of Planning,
Budget and Analysis Web site.
CSU also had more students unable to obtain visas, but the
university has managed to keep numbers rising, with an increase of
about 5 percent from the 2001-2002 school year to the 2002-2003
school year, according to the CSU Office of Budgets and
Institutional Analysis Web site.
Programs, word of mouth entice students
Each international student chooses to study in the United States
for personal reasons. Often that decision is based on the programs
in which students want to study, said Jerry Bookin-Weiner,
executive director of the Office of International Education at CSU.
“(International students) feel this is where it’s happening,” he
Of CSU’s international 950 students, 703 are graduate students,
246 are undergraduate students and one studies veterinary medicine,
according to the OBIA Web site. For undergraduate students the two
colleges with the most international students are intra-university
and natural sciences. For graduate students, the colleges of
engineering and natural sciences host the most students with 233
and 172, respectively.
Computer science and electrical and computer engineering are the
departments with the most international students, Bookin-Weiner
Students also choose CSU because the students have heard it is a
great place to learn.
“Word of mouth is (CSU’s) most important recruiter,”
Bookin-Weiner said. “We’re fortunate in that (international
students) hear good things about how they are treated here.”
Other things can also make a difference in a student’s choice to
come to the United States or CSU to further his/her education. For
Nischal Piratla, a doctorate student studying computer networking,
the state-of-the-art technology offered in the United States was
Nischal Piratla, Sangita Kalarickal’s husband, came to the
United States in 1997 to pursue a master’s degree. He says that the
computing and other technology is improving in India. But the
technology in the United States is still newer.
“People are actually moving back to India,” he said. “I would
still go with the U.S.”
Bookin-Weiner also credits some of the interest to the community
and programs offered at CSU.
“(International students) like living here,” he said. “The role
of the community volunteers is critical.”
CSU has 20 international student organizations ranging from
Saudi Student House to the Indian Student Association. There is
also a weekly Friday Afternoon Club meeting for students to attend
and other frequent occasions for international students to get
Universities across the country have noticed the difficulties
international students experience in getting a visa from the United
States to enter the country.
The process for obtaining a visa now takes longer than before.
The State Department Web site warns those interested in visas to
allow more time, because more people, such as administrators in
Washington, D.C., must now approve the visa’s authorization.
Students also receive less funding to leave their home countries
to pursue an education, and this funding must be secure before a
visa will be issued, Piratla said. Students must acquire
scholarships or other funding to show they can pay for their school
and living expenses.
Bookin-Weiner also said the events of Sept. 11, 2001, have made
an impact on students’ abilities to get visas, as the United States
government is more reluctant to give them out.
Despite CSU’s increasing numbers, they too have seen the
“Our numbers would have gone up even more if it wasn’t for
(those difficulties),” Bookin-Weiner said. He said that overall the
number of international students in the country will probably
remain the same and in Colorado they are down this year.
Fewer international students enroll at CU
Despite international student interest in skiing, Janet Garcia,
international student and scholar specialist at the University of
Colorado-Boulder, said the biggest reason students choose CU is
because they are interested in the programs.
“(International students) come because they want a specific
program,” she said.
The number of graduate international students, 768, is more than
double the number of undergraduate international students, at 335.
And within both universities, the international students appear to
flock toward the sciences and engineering.
Garcia lists engineering, physics and chemistry as the programs
international students are most interested in at CU. According to
the Planning, Budget and Analysis Web site, 187 international
students enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences and 71
enrolled in the College of Engineering as the two colleges with the
Other things also play a part in the decision. Garcia said
students also like CU because of the access to equipments, labs and
resources, the efficiency of the admissions office, the
international peer mentor program and because Boulder is very
Garcia says the international admissions office offers and
processes the paperwork in such an efficient manner that more
students attend CU because of it. She sees the efficiency and
knowledge of the office as a huge benefit.
CU also hosts 17 clubs for international students. These clubs
range from Thai Student Association to the Kuwaiti Student
Association to the French Club. These clubs and the International
Student and Scholar Services at CU offer many programs throughout
the year to help international students transition to living and
learning in Colorado.
“Volunteers help the new students adjust to life,” Garcia said.
Garcia said the host program in the community also helps
international students adjust by creating friendships.
Even though CU offers many programs to attract international
students to Boulder, its enrollment decreased this year. Garcia
said without a doubt this is because obtaining visas has become
Garcia said that at one point physics was accepting nine
international students but ended up with none.
“(International students) are intimidated by the new climate,”