Penn State

International growth at Penn State up 17 percent

A recent report puts Penn State at No. 1 for the number of international students on its campuses — which isn’t a reach as the state’s largest university — but it also ranks No. 12 nationwide.

Figures from the fall semester show University Park’s international student enrollment was up 17 percent over the same time last year, representing 6,786 students, according to university numbers.

Penn State satellite campuses have witnessed an even larger increase. For the fall semester, campuses outside of University Park have seen a 37 percent spike in international students over the same time last year. That number increased 122 percent from 2008. There were 923 international students enrolled at satellite campuses this semester, according to university numbers.

“International students who earn their degree at a Penn State campus location benefit from the ability to adjust to the American university system in a smaller-scale environment,” said Tharren Thompson, of the Office of International and Multicultural Services at Penn State DuBois, in a news release.

The Nov. 12 Open Doors report by the Institute of International Education names the University of Southern California as No. 1. followed by University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign and New York University as second and third, respectively. USC had a total of 9,269 international students.

“The value of a Penn State degree is recognized around the world as more international students begin as 2+2 students at a Commonwealth Campus,” said Anne Rohrbach, executive director for undergraduate admissions at Penn State, said in a statement. “The Undergraduate Admissions Office recruits in more than 30 countries each year.”

The bulk of the increase in international students at U.S. universities comes from China. While the overall year-over-year increase in international students was 6 percent this year nationwide, 23 percent of that number comes from China.

“China now has a middle class that can afford tuition in other countries,” said Masume Assaf, director of international students and scholar advising at Penn State. “Twenty years ago, only graduate students with assistantships attended Penn State, because other students didn’t have the means available to attend.”