NORMAL — Illinois State University will work with INTO University Partnerships to help increase the number of international students attending the university.
In 2014, the university announced a goal to increase the percentage of international students at ISU and later set the goal at 10 percent of total enrollment within 10 years. However, the percentage of international students has remained relatively static at about 2 percent.
After requesting proposals from several organizations that work with universities on international recruitment, ISU settled on INTO University Partnerships.
At a special meeting Saturday in the Chicago suburb of Hinsdale, the ISU board of trustees approved the agreement.
Brent Paterson, assistant to the president, said it was important to get the agreement in place because February and March are key times for recruiting college students from east Asia.
University officials cited two primary reasons to seek more international students: ensuring domestic students are prepared for the global marketplace and maintaining enrollment as the number of Illinois high school graduates is declining.
With close to 95 percent of ISU students coming from Illinois, the university wants to increase their exposure to other cultures, said Paterson.
“We would love for all students to study abroad, but not everyone can do that,” he said.
Bringing more international students to ISU will enable domestic students to “live with international students and interact with them in and out of class, gaining a better understanding of other cultures,” said Paterson.
According to materials presented to the board, no qualified Illinois high school graduates will be displaced by international students.
ISU had 384 international students and 56 exchange students on campus fall semester.
INTO University Partnerships has 30 regional offices covering more than 75 countries. It will be responsible for marketing to and recruiting students.
ISU will set up an international student center on campus. Paterson said this will be done in existing space.
The university also will provide programs for students needing additional English language development before beginning regular coursework.
ISU has an English Language Institute and instructors from that program will teach the academic English courses, said Paterson. More faculty will be hired as the program grows, he added.
The first students are expected to come to campus this fall, Paterson said. He did not have figures available for what the university will be paying to develop the international student center and hire additional faculty.