International students make up approximately 11 percent of the student population on the Concordia campus. Representing more than 20 countries, this population brings culture, experiences and stories from all across the globe.
Though a small group on campus, their backgrounds help create a diverse community. However, the enrolled international students have dropped significantly this year.
Steve Schaefer, the senior associate director of International Admissions, states that the year of 2021 held the most international students enrollment since Concordia’s establishment bringing in 48 students. However, this year, only 29 students joined the cobber community.
According to Schaefer, the first explanation is the aftermath of the pandemic. In the last two years, Concordia has been unable to travel and advertise the school to schools across the globe, allowing only for virtual connections.
The second reason he states is the increase of competition among the Davis Partner Schools and loss of popularity for being the ‘new’ Davis Partner caused a decrease in interest. The Davis Partnership is a scholarship granted to graduates of the United World Colleges, a two-year high school boarding program. Across the United States there are 97 colleges where this scholarship is accepted. Concordia joined the Partnership in the year of 2018 and caught the attention of the students across the United World Colleges, but now it is losing popularity.
Schaefer also added that due to visa issues, nine international students were not able to make it.
Aya Ghani, a current senior from Iraq said, “I definitely think Concordia was strong before that before the pandemic happened. But again, Covid broke a lot of things and it did not only break college enrollment numbers, but it also broke everything.”
Ghani said Concordia did a great job in recovering from such a big hit. She also states that one of the reasons for the decline in international student enrollment is that we are in a recession right now and that college tuition is increasing.
“We are technically in a recession right now….the state of the world, the state of the economy, people researching different options for universities…the tuition keeps rising, maybe they [parents and students] want cheaper options,” Ghani said.
Ghani also believes that another reason for low enrollment is Concordia’s location because it is located in a small town with cold weather eight months of the year.
She reiterates that the state of the world economy is challenging right now, which she knows from her experience working in the admissions office.
“The numbers fluctuate all the time. When I came my year was one of the lowest but in 2020 we had more people coming in,” Ghani said.
When asked about her experience in Concordia so far, Ghani said that her experiences have been generally positive. The supportive academic faculty, the political science programs, the close community of international students and how well the general student body knows each other have all been factors to creating a positive experience for Aya.
Thanatip Thainsawang “Matt”, a recent freshman from Thailand, shares his experiences at Concordia so far. According to Matt, the community is lively, there are always events happening and the diversity on campus interests him since he loves meeting new people.
The International Admissions office is set on in the quest of inviting more students from across the globe to join the cobber community. Schaefer shared some of the plans the school has in mind to create a more diverse campus.
More outreach to college counselors is one of the ways Schaefer intends to achieve the goal. Another one is returning to travel to the United World College campuses to better advertise Concordia.
The final one is using the Flipped Admissions process through Concourse. Students submit applications and if they match the criteria for a college, they are automatically accepted, according to Schaefer. This way of reaching out to high schoolers will allow for a more efficient and practical process.