Foreign student numbers remain steady

By Audrey Weick

Despite a national increase of foreign students attending U.S. colleges, NIU’s numbers remained consistent, said an NIU official.

There are 748 non-immigrant, visa-holding students at NIU, said Thecla Cooler, assistant director of the NIU International Student and Faculty Office.

The largest amount of foreign students comes from Mainland China, Cooler said. India ranks second, with the Republic of China ranking third.

Nationally, the number of foreign U.S. college students rose by 5.3 percent to a record 407,500 according to recently released estimates from the Institute of International Education.

“The percentage of foreign students has remained consistent over five years despite the national increase,” Cooler said.

There are several programs available for foreign students to help them adjust to college life, said Mark Thackaberry, director of NIU’s International and Student Faculty Office.

Before foreign students are accepted at NIU, they first must prove proficiency in the English language, he said. They prove this by taking the English as a Second Language exam. Upon passing, they are then contacted by the university and are invited to take part in the university’s special orientation programs.

The orientation helps foreign students learn the various offices and resources available to them, Thackaberry said.

Also, there are many ethnic academic and social clubs foreign students are encouraged to join.

“This not only aids in their social life by allowing them to interrelate with students from their own country, but it also broadens the foreign student’s understanding of college life,” Thackaberry said.