International student programs at Iowa’s three public universities are facing new post-Nine-Eleven challenges. The University of Iowa’s international program is down nearly a hundred students from last year, while Iowa State University’s program saw an increase of just five students.
Only U-N-I is seeing a significant increase, which includes 70 students from Saudi Arabia on the Cedar Falls campus this year. Ross Schupbach, advisor for U-N-I’s program, says for many years it’s been Russian students who had the largest representation “but now the Saudis have taken over.” He credits a new scholarship program enacted by the Saudi government that encourages study in the U.S.
Schupbach says U-N-I has reached out to those students and the Saudis are responding. He says U-N-I’s Saudi students have even formed a club and in November will host the kingdom’s Ambassador to the U.S. on campus.
Scott King is director of the University of Iowa’s Office of International Students and Scholars. King says the Iowa City campus has two-thousand-four students from other nations this year, a drop of 95 students from last year — most of them grad students.
King says “A lot of this has to do with tightening finances at the University have meant fewer graduate assistantships available and that has a big impact on any graduate population but particularly the international student graduate population.” Tighter visa restrictions after Nine-Eleven made it more difficult for many college students to reach the U.S., but King says the State Department has lived up to its promise to now give students priority in the visa process.
King says “The visa situation has stabilized. It’s certainly not pre-Nine-Eleven and I don’t think we want the situation pre-Nine-Eleven, but the process has become a lot more predictable for students. The security checks are going through usually fairly expeditiously.”
The largest number of international students in Iowa’s program are from China, which is mirrored at Iowa State, where the full program has 21-hundred-13 students this year, an increase of five students. U-N-I’s program is much smaller, with 432 international students this year, an increase of ten, and the largest-ever international class in Cedar Falls.