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International Admissions Increase at the University of Wyoming

(tajai via Flickr)

Since the 1950s, the University of Wyoming has provided a small-town, welcoming environment for its international students. Part of the mission of the University of Wyoming is, according to Danee Hunzie, Assistant Director of Admissions International Students and Scholars, to “bring the world to Wyoming, and to bring Wyoming to the world.” While recruiting international students has been part of UW for the past sixty years, the number of international students, as well as the variety of countries they represent, has risen steadily since 2003.  In 2003, there were 360 international students from approximately 60 countries. Since then, UW has expanded its focus to include students from over 94 countries.  Currently there are over 750 international students on campus, with the most strong showings coming from China (192 students), Nepal (63 students), and India (50 students). Saudi Arabia also makes a strong showing with 50 students.  This trend in a large number of students from Asian countries is similar to trend in international admissions at other universities.

According to Hunzie, UW has many students from Asian countries because they have developed “pipelines” from these countries to UW. It can be overwhelming to commit to coming to a foreign country and attend a school that students have never been too. One international student on campus, I-Ting (Joyce) Huang (a graduate student in communication and journalism from Taipei, Taiwan), said that one of the biggest challenges she faced when coming to UW was that there was little information about UW available in foreign countries, besides what was available on the website. Since UW has established pipelines in many countries, it is easy for these students to learn about UW and gain the confidence needed to come.

However, while establishing these pipelines is incredibility valuable for both international and domestic students, it is an intensive endeavor that is often reliant on funding. Hunzie, who has been newly hired to specifically focus on international recruitment, says that while UW would like to expand to other countries, traveling to new countries can be expensive. Nevertheless, UW is committed to increasing their international student population, as Hunzie has recently returned from an trip where she visited 11 different cities, including ones in Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Hunzie stated the UW is a “hit” in many of Asian countries for several reasons. First, UW shows its support for international students through the availability of funding options, and its offer of affordable tuition. UW’s affordability is especially important because some of the international students’ parents work multiple jobs to pay for their students’ education, Hunzie said. The second reason international students want to come to UW is because UW offers many science, math, and engineering programs that are nationally competitive. Many of the international students are interested in pursuing careers in these fields, so UW is a great fit. Third, UW’s small-town feel paired with nationally competitive programs appeal to many prospective international students.  UW’s small-town feel also reflects that it is a safe community for international students to come to.  Parents and extended families play a major role in helping decide where students should attend, so safety becomes an important factor when deciding where to attend school.

While Hunzie mentioned several reasons why international students come to UW, Huang mentioned that she loves UW because “UW is concerned with international students.” She talked about how support for international students comes from all levels of campus, such as ASUW, which funds International Student Association events. Through these events, Huang mentioned that she gets to network with other international students, as well as domestic students, and learn about other cultures. Like Hunzie, Huang also mentioned that she likes UW’s small-town feel and that it provides a better way for her to “get to know Americans and their culture.” She also mentioned that she thinks people are friendlier in Laramie than in larger cities. The size of UW gives her more opportunity to hone her English, which is one of her goals in coming here.

The University of Wyoming’s committed to promoting diversity throughout campus and Wyoming.  Hunzie said that interaction with international students is critical to both international and domestic students because diversity challenges people’s barriers and exposes them to the world. “We are bringing diversity to Wyoming,” Hunzie said. The diversity is here to stay.

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