WKU grows international student program through partnership with Oman

Medinah, Saudia Arabia senior Abbas Alsabah plays the traditional Middle Eastern instrument, the qanun, and has continued studying the art while attending WKU by taking lessons from an overseas instructor. Funding from the Saudi Arabian government has encouraged significant growth in Saudi student population in Bowling Green and the fostering of international cultural arts. For example, Alsabah has been joined at WKU by several of his cousins, several of whom are also interested in traditional music. Photo by Leanora Benkato/ WKU HERALD

Jessica Voorhees

This semester, WKU expanded its international reach through a partnership with Oman, which afforded 20 new students to attend the university. 

Brian Meredith, associate vice president for enrollment management, said the Omani students are enrolled at WKU through a government-sponsored program which funds the expenses of students to study overseas. 

“One of our many international recruitment strategies is to work with governments who are sponsoring students to go out of the country overseas, and Oman is one of the countries that is investing in the education of their students to go to the U.S.,” he said.

Ashley Givan, sponsored international student advisor, said the Omani government funds the students’ tuition and provides a stipend for living expenses. 

Givan said 20 Omani students enrolled this spring in both undergraduate and graduate programs, mostly within science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and business fields. 

Meredith said he anticipates the number of Omani students to grow, as relations with the country strengthen. 

“A lot of countries won’t send you a good many at first,” he said. “They want to make sure the students get comfortable and have a great experience. And if everything works well and the students are satisfied, then, they’ll send us more, over time.”

Meredith said four years ago approximately 800 undergraduate and graduate international students attended WKU.

Givan said the number increased to almost 1,300 this semester. 

Meredith said the increase is owed to the success of previous government-sponsored international programs, such as the Saudi-Arabian and Brazilian student programs. 

“The word is out that WKU is very serious about taking care of international students,” he said.

Givan said the International Student Office added her role as sponsored international student advisor in August, to provide a liaison between international governments and students, in order to better accommodate their “special needs.” 

Meredith said WKU appeals to foreign governments looking to send students abroad because of its reputation as an internationally-friendly school. 

“WKU has a very sound and very strong reputation in the international marketplace as having infrastructure and support for international students,” he said.