WKU sees increase in international reach

Joanna Williams

If the 2011 Fact Book numbers are any indication, WKU may be inching a bit closer to its goal of “international reach.”

Two components of international reach, study abroad and international students attending WKU, saw increases during the 2010-2011 from the 2009-2010 year.

Study abroad enrollment more than doubled from 593 to 1,353 students, while international student attendance increased, with the most students coming from India.

Tarek Elshayeb, director of the International Center and International Student and Scholar Services, said the increase in international students can be attributed to Navitas as well as the English as Second Language Institute.

Elshayeb said that WKU offers a quality education at a reasonable price when compared to other institutions. He also said that a big factor is the Bowling Green community.

“The Bowling Green community is open minded,” Elshayeb said. “They welcome international students and they comfort them, which makes it comfortable when they are pursuing their academic goals.”

WKU is expecting an increase in the number of international students this year, Elshayeb said.

Tom Millington, director of Study Abroad and Global Learning, said he doesn’t know the reason for spike in the number of students studying abroad, but attributed some of it to more students coming to college with an interest in traveling.

Millington said the office has promoted study abroad more “aggressively” this year than in years past, but the ultimate credit goes to WKU’s reputation. 

“WKU has a reputation as school with international reach and more students are responding,” he said.

Honors College students make up a majority of the number of students studying abroad. The Fact Book stating one in 10 students who participate in a faculty-led study abroad is an Honors College student.

Craig Cobane, executive director of the Honors College, said the college has seen an increase in the number of students studying abroad.

Cobane also credited President Gary Ransdell reiterating the value of study abroad, saying that it is has most likely inspired students.

“What’s really amazing is the economy is bad, but students have continued to study abroad,” Cobane said. “Even in a bad economy, students are traveling abroad.”