Some local colleges are thinking global by placing greater emphasis on recruiting international students and signing agreements and partnerships with universities around the world.
As part of King’s College’s five-year strategic plan, the Wilkes-Barre-based Catholic college has set out to increase the number of international students on its campus with a gradual increase annually over the five years.
Corry Unis, King’s vice president of enrollment management, said the goals are five new international students next year, up to 10 in 2015 and up to 12 in 2016. Currently there are fewer than 10 international students enrolled at the school.
The college hired De Martin to serve as director of international recruiting. Martin said the school “realizes in order to provide the best education, you have to prepare students for the global market.”
Martin said her goal is to have about 3 percent of the King’s College student body comprised of international students.
Martin, who previously served as director of the department of international student admissions at Zirve University in Gaziantep, Turkey, said international students bring positives and strengths to American campuses.
“They bring a different cultural perspective into the classroom and onto the campus,” Martin said. “Overall King’s will see a better quality student. The more diverse a campus, I feel, the better the education.”
She acknowledged that international students are not as familiar with King’s College as they may be with the Ivy League schools or Notre Dame but the first steps are to get students to come here. Then word will spread in their homelands and more students will become familiar with King’s College.
Perhaps more important, Martin said, is creating affiliations and partnerships with foreign schools for exchange programs for students and faculty.
The school recently finalized a 2+2 agreement with Martin’s former employer, Zirve University, that will allow students at either school to spend two years at one university and two years at the other and receive a degree. Martin has also initiated academic partnerships with universities in India, Turkey and Taiwan.
While there is this push for international students, Martin said the school has no plans to abandon or stray from its mission of educating local students.
Penn State Wilkes-Barre has five international students attending the Lehman Township campus and has created a Committee on International Student Affairs to help international students adjust.
Student Ashish Srivastra of Mumbai, India, heads the campus’ Global Citizens’ Society, which aims to explore, promote and increase the awareness of cultural and religious groups on campus.
“What I like is that I will be bringing the world to the students on campus, so that they know that there’s a world outside of their own city, state or even country,” said Srivastra.
Wilkes University leads the way when it comes to the number of international students with 199 total — 34 graduate students and 165 undergraduates. Two years ago it added an international recruiter to its admissions staff.
At Misericordia University in Dallas Township, spokesman Paul Krzywicki said while there is no program that targets the foreign student recruitment, there are seven international students at the school.