Concord Leads Small, Public Colleges in W.Va. in International Student Enrollment
Athens, W.Va. – Concord University led the small, public institutions in the state of West Virginia in the number of international students in 2005-06, bringing in 83 students from nations other than the United States of America. Students come to Concord from more than 22 different countries such as Bulgaria, Canada, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, and Turkey.
A report released by the Institute for International Education measures the financial impact of international students on state’s economies. For the 2005-06 academic year, the report indicated that international students in West Virginia would spend an estimated $46.8 million.
“International students contribute significantly to Concord's budget and the local economy through tuition and fees and living expenses. International students are a positive asset for the town of Athens,” said Nancy Ellison, director of multicultural affairs.
On top of the benefit to the local economy that Concord provides through welcoming and encouraging the enrollment of students from not just this region but around the world is the impact it has on the culture of the campus and the improvement of student life.
“International students enhance the campus environment at Concord by enriching the student population with unique students,” said Jessica Cook of Cyclone, 2007-08 president of the Student Government Association. “Students from around the world venture to the small town of Athens to attend college, and the college, in turn, benefits from their diverse backgrounds and experiences. The international community is an incredible asset to a college sheltered in the hills of Appalachia; it provides international exposure to students who may or may not be familiar with the culture and customs outside our region,” she added.
“By living and working with international students, domestic students have opportunities to become acquainted and form friendships, thereby learning from one another. Their presence makes it possible to discover similarities with persons around the globe and begin to build relationships for the future,” said Ellison.
In addition, Ellison noted that many international students also contribute through service to the local community.
“Students are frequent visitors to the Athens Elementary School and share their culture, language and traditions with students,” said Ellison. In addition, 24 students have participated in the Bonner Scholars Program, a prestigious service-based scholarship program that requires students to complete 1,600 community service hours. (Concord University is the only public institution in the nation with the Bonner Scholars program.)
Concord takes great strides to bring diverse cultures from around the world. At present, the University has three transfer articulation agreements with schools in Japan and efforts are underway to create new exchange program articulation agreements with schools in Indonesia and Turkey. These programs would allow students, faculty, and staff to change places with students in those countries and study and learn abroad. These efforts are being supported by a $15,000 grant from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, and Concord was one of only six schools in the state to receive such a grant.
Concord accommodates the unique needs of international students in a wide variety of ways. “Students are picked up from the airport or local bus or train station upon arrival. We bring them to campus and provide a way for them to contact their families to let them know they have safely arrived. We help them through the orientation period by taking them shopping for dorm room supplies and helping them register for classes. We are also available to help them work through some of the culture shock and jet lag that occurs during those first few days. Later on, when homesickness begins, other international students are around to sympathize,” Ellison shared.
During the holidays, Concord sponsors a program in which local residents welcome international students into their homes. “This provides an opportunity for American families to learn about other countries and cultures by having an international student stay in their home. In turn, the international student benefits by being able to practice English conversation and learn about American culture first hand in the comfortable, friendly environment of an American home,” said Ellison.
Concord was granted permission to accept foreign students by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service during the 1960s.
The two public institutions in the state to recruit more international students were West Virginia University with 1,244 international students and Marshall University with 363 international students.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Jesse Call, a senior majoring in political science and history, wrote this press release. His hometown is Pocahontas, Va.