Lander continues to draw increasing numbers of international students
GREENWOOD—Lander University’s international program experienced another successful academic year in 2014-15. Dean of International Programs Po Hu said the university’s five-year-old initiative has seen an impressive increase in the number of international students coming to Lander and more Lander students choosing to enroll in academic programs at schools overseas.
Lander has academic partnerships with 27 educational institutions in Asia: 13 in China, 10 in South Korea, and two each in Thailand and Tajikistan; and one in Portugal. Describing them as top-ranked universities, Hu said, “They supply quality students to Lander and create exciting opportunities for Lander students and faculty to study on their campuses.”
This spring, Lander welcomed 93 students and two scholars from 25 countries. Among them were 41 students from Asia.
Hu explained that international students represented 3.7 percent of Lander’s enrollment, which was equal to or larger than six other public or private colleges and universities in South Carolina.
His office provides the students and scholars with what he called “comprehensive care,” beginning with completing intricate immigration details, and screening and processing documents. His staff arranges housing and helps students enroll in courses. They also help them become assimilated into university life, to deal with routine details of daily living such as opening bank accounts and, in general, to adjust to a different culture.
The newcomers receive social and recreational opportunities to help them learn more about living in the U.S. They are also matched with host families who share family life and social and religious experiences with the students on weekends and other occasions when school is not in session. Hu added, “The field of international education is more than an eight-hours a day, five days a week responsibility.”
The influx of international students at Lander mirrors a national trend. The number of foreign students in the U.S. grew to a record high of over 886,000 in the 2013-14 academic year, representing about 4.2 percent of the nation’s total college and university enrollment. According to “Open Doors 2014,” a report from the Institute of International Education (I.I.E.), the U.S. is the destination of choice for higher education by foreign students and their families. During their stay last year, they contributed $27.7 billion to the U.S. economy.
South Carolina ranked 34th with, 5,212 foreign students, accounting for a financial infusion of $126 million.
Most international students pay tuition from personal and family resources, and they may receive scholarship assistance from governments or universities at home. The institute said foreign students also contribute to America’s scientific and technical research, and bring international perspectives to U.S. classrooms.
Lander President Daniel Ball said “Our campus has been culturally and academically enriched by our international students for many years, but particularly so during the past three years, as the number of students coming from abroad has doubled.” He added, “We have also witnessed more Lander students studying abroad, with a notable increase in students traveling and studying in Asia.”
Ball said foreign students who come to Lander share unique cultural experiences with the campus community. “The same can be said for Lander students who enroll in the university’s Study Abroad program and share their experiences with classmates when they return.”
When Hu became dean in 2013, one of his goals was to build Lander’s international program into a national model in the South, comparable to other public four-year institutions in size and location. He envisions a steady increase in the number of international students coming to Lander, 100 or more in the next academic year, and he expects more Lander students and faculty to take advantage of global educational opportunities offered by the university’s international partners. Achieving that goal, he said, will improve the awareness and influence of globalization on Lander and the Greenwood area. He expressed his gratitude to Lander’s administration, faculty and staff, and the Greenwood community for supporting the international initiative.
Hu’s perspective on the importance of globalization is in line with remarks by the president of the I.I.E. in its recent report. Dr. Allan Goodman said international experience is one of the most important components of a 21st century education. He added, “Learning how to study and work with people from other countries and cultures prepares future leaders to contribute to making the world a less-dangerous place.”
Members of Lander University’s administration and staff gather with students from South Korea and China to celebrate an Asian spring festival on campus. Lander has academic agreements with 27 colleges and universities in South Korea, China, Thailand, Tajikistan and Portugal.