A growing number of international students who arrived on the East and West Coasts are making their way inland to study in Oklahoma.
Officials with Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma expect each campus will have about 2,000 students from other countries for the fall semester, which begins Monday.
Cost is a big factor, said Tim Huff, manager of international students and scholars at OSU.
“We’re extremely competitive,” Huff said.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranks Oklahoma higher education No. 7 in affordability.
Huff said scholars from abroad make up about 3 percent of the student population at public colleges and universities nationally.
“We run closer to 8 to 9 percent,” he said.
India sent the most students to OSU last fall — 500 plus — and most of them were graduate students in engineering, computer science, management of information services and other technical fields, Huff said.
China came in second with mostly undergraduates in a variety of fields, including hotel/restaurant management, agriculture, engineering and business.
“We have above 400 Chinese students this year,” said Huff, noting China sends the most scholars to the U.S.
That’s true at OU, where 610 of the 1,778 international students last spring were Chinese, said Robyn Rojas, director of international student services.
Saudi Arabia had the second largest number of students, many who came to study petroleum engineering, Rojas said.
Both campuses have students from more than 100 countries, with the four biggest populations coming from India, China, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.
The numbers are growing steadily at OU, which is in the third year of a strategic recruiting plan for international students, Rojas said.
“A lot of students stay here and start a new degree. They come for a bachelor’s and stay for a master’s,” she said.
Another reason OSU has been successful in attracting student from abroad is “a great international reputation,” Huff said. “We have alums all over the world.”
Adjusting to campus life
Once international students arrive, OU and OSU offer a variety of services and programs to greet them and help them adjust to campus life.
“The people are so welcoming,” said Jean-Philippe Gorrut, one of a group of students from Clermont-Ferrand, France, newly arrived at OU. Their school at home requires students to spend one semester abroad.