WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Recent numbers show that international student enrollment is down across the nation. That’s according to marketplace.org.
International student enrollment in the fall of 2017 was down seven percent from 2016. Universities in the Midwest are fighting to attract international students to their schools as they go up against schools on both coasts and around the world.
Numbers show that there was a decline especially in Midwest universities. According to Marketplace, some students are saying they are concerned about going to school in a "red state."
And that finding a job in the U.S. after graduation is a priority, but it’s difficult to get those kind of permanent visas.
“It shouldn’t be about a red state or a blue state or a whatever color state,” said Michael Brzeznski, Dean of the International Programs at Purdue. "You look at the institution and you look at the community.”
"The red state, the blue state, I think when students are really making a choice about a school, that is really not a huge factor,” said Caressa Oorloff, Assistant Director of the International Center of West Lafayette. “A big factor is whether the school is good for them, if it's a good fit for them.”
Brzeznski said they have seen a slight decline in international undergraduate numbers.
"Purdue's applications are strong as ever, very modest decline,” he said. “Our graduate enrollment from abroad is at an all time high."
But he said any decrease in enrollment is actually intentional.
"We've purposely targeted about 10% of our incoming classes to be international," he said. "I think it's about trying to create the best mix and as we have grown we become more selective."
At one point, Purdue had the highest international student enrollment among public universities.
Now it's at number four. But Brzeznski said they are still appealling strongly to Hoosiers students and out-of-state students.
He emphasized that international students should feel welcome on campus. One place they do that is at the International Center.
"We have a lot of free programs, English conversation programs, we've got Japanese, Arabic, French conversation," said Oorloff.
And because of this, she said international students are drawn to the center.
"They feel like they can still be themselves in this community," she said.
Jihee Suh and her husband came here from South Korea so he could study and research at Purdue. They have been here for more than three years.
"Great program and here he could really focus on research which is what he really wanted to do," said Suh.
Or Yuko Sakata from Japan. She and her husband moved here almost three years ago so he could get a job at the Subaru plant here in town. She says she feels welcomed in this community.
"Good place to live for international people, they definitely welcome them," she said.
Both say they regularly go to the International Center, and both teach language lessons at the center.
Brzeznski said it is more difficult for international students to find permanent work here in the U.S. after they graduate. But that Purdue does have a staff of about 20 people to help them with that.
He said he believes Purdue offers students the full package.
"Great opportunities, sports events, cultural events, and the academic quality of Purdue, in my opinion, is second to none," he said.