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First Monday

Public Affairs


International student body grows, but not as fast

November 19, 2003

Photo of a student playing a "can," a traditional Thai instrumentSFSU remains an increasingly hot destination for students from more than 100 countries across the globe, despite the tightened regulations for obtaining student visas established after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Figures for the 2002-03 academic year released Nov. 3 by the Institute of International Education show that SFSU has more international students than any other master's degree-granting institution in the United States except City University of New York-Baruch College. It is the third consecutive year that SFSU is ranked No. 2.

The number of matriculated international students at SFSU increased by 1.6 percent over last fall to reach 2,267. The University's international student population has grown for eight consecutive years and more than doubled since 1994.

The 1.6 percent increase, however, is SFSU's smallest in years, as the international student population jumped by more than 10 percent as recently as 2000-2001. The smaller increase reflects a national trend as reported in the Institute of International Education report, which states an overall increase of less than 1 percent at colleges and universities nationwide in 2002-03.

Yenbo Wu, SFSU director of international programs, attributes the smaller increase at SFSU to the new regulations and delays in obtaining student visas. This has caused many students to not receive their visas in time to enter an American college or university this fall. As a result, more foreign students are seeking to study abroad in other English speaking countries such as England or Australia.

"I have no doubt in my mind that the measures taken by the U.S. government to fight terrorism have affected international student enrollment negatively," Wu said. "More international students are finding San Francisco State to be a welcoming, wonderful university in a wonderful city. We hope to continue to accommodate as many of them as possible."

SFSU international students represent 114 countries of origin. The University remains a top destination for students from Asian countries, who this fall comprise 72.9 percent of the University's international student body. Japan still tops the list with 464 students, as it has since SFSU began tracking countries of origin in 1994. The other top countries of origin are Taiwan (282 students), South Korea (156), mainland China (146), Indonesia (133) and India (112).

Several countries showed significant increases over last fall. Germany increased by 34.4 percent with 32 students. Vietnam showed a 31.6 percent increase with 38 students. France increased by 31.4 percent with 35 students.

Business administration remains the most popular field of study (365 students), followed by computer science (181), international business (107), and business computer information systems (89).

Of the 2,267 matriculated international students, 899 are graduate students. For some countries, graduate students significantly outnumber undergraduates. For example, there are 91 graduate students from India, compared to 21 undergraduates. There are 59 graduate students from Thailand, compared to 18 undergraduates.

Matriculated students do not include those enrolled through SFSU's College of Extended Learning or American Language Institute, as well as some other short-term visitors, students and scholars.

For detailed nationwide data on international students, visit the Institute of International Education's Web site.

For more information on SFSU international programs, call (415) 338-1293 or visit the Office of International Programs Web site.

-- Matt Itelson





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Last modified November 19, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs