Nov 132003
Authors: Colleen Buhrer

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

enrollment, respectively.

For the fall 2003 semester, CSU hosted 950 students from 90

countries and the University of Colorado-Boulder has 1,183 enrolled

international students.

The top three countries with students enrolled at CSU are India,

the People’s Republic of China and South Korea with 175, 113 and

97, respectively.

“Most international students do extensive study of the programs

at the

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

involved in.

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

most enrollment.

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,”

Garcia said.




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