International Enrollment Expected to Jump at Southeast this Fall

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Aug. 7, 2008 – Southeast Missouri State University’s international student population is expected to leap dramatically this year as the University welcomes at least 103 new international students in the fall. 

The increase in Southeast’s international student population is a critically important first step in expanding the global competency of Southeast graduates by bringing the world’s cultures into the classroom environment and campus life, according to Dr. Gerald McDougall, dean of University International Programs and the Harrison College of Business.  

“The importance of further internationalizing the campus and the University’s undergraduate and graduate programs was recognized by the University’s Board of Regents in the revised mission statement the Board recently approved.  This priority has been acted on through the University’s strategic enrollment management plan that established the goal of doubling international enrollments over the next three years.  The expected increase in international student enrollments for fall 2008 firmly stakes out the path that will allow Southeast to achieve, if not exceed, this goal,” McDougall said.

Zahir Ahmed, executive director of International Education and Services, said the number of applications has greatly increased from last year.

“Normally there are not that many applications, but this year we received more than 400 applications,” Ahmed said. “We’ve admitted around 350 students this year and we are seeing a yield of nearly 33 percent on these admissions.”

While official enrollment statistics won’t be available until Aug. 20, record numbers of acceptance notifications have arrived from students, and there is still time left for other prospective students before classes begin on Aug. 25.

George Dordoni, assistant director of International Education and Services, said that at the end of May, the international population was 213. With this year’s additions, the number will increase to at least 300.

“There are many students from India, the United Arab Emirates, and China, but we also currently have small amounts of students from as many as 34 countries, including Spain, Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France and Turkey,” Dordoni said.

According to this year’s statistics, students will arrive this fall from South Korea, the Netherlands, Nepal, India, Ireland, Germany and others.

In order to recruit, Ahmed said he travels across the globe and speaks to prospective students in person. He also places advertisements in local newspapers.

“Before a student makes the decision to attend Southeast, we are communicating with him or her constantly about the University,” Ahmed said.

This year’s students are expected to arrive on Aug. 20, when staff and faculty involved with Office of International Education and Services will show them the “ins and outs” of Cape Girardeau.

Dordoni said, “We help them get bank accounts, student ID cards, and we take them to local stores to purchase items they weren’t allowed to bring on the plane, such as food and pillows. We give them information about their student visas so they can study legally in the United States, and we inform them about the differences in American educational systems, opposed to the ones they grew up with.”

The students will have only one day to get over jet lag and adjust to their new surroundings before the official orientation takes place Aug. 21 in Rose Theatre.

Ahmed said, “We try to make them as comfortable as possible. You can feel pretty lonely when you’re 10,000 miles away from home.”

For more information, contact the Office of International Education and Services at (573)986-6863 or intadmit@semo.edu.