Number of international students on the rise at Oswego
By Deborah J. Sergeant
If it seems the number of international students at SUNY Oswego has gone up over the years, you are correct. About 15 years ago, the school boasted just over 70 students from other nations. By the 2016-2017 school year, that number jumped to 225, an increase of 221 percent. Numbers for the 2017-2018 have not been finalized.
“We achieved the highest number of degree seeking international students in our history and the highest number of countries represented,” said Joshua S. McKeown, Ph.D., associate provost and director for International Education and Programs at SUNY Oswego.
He added that the school’s 34 different represented countries means that SUNY Oswego has never been more diverse — a trend the school has worked to achieve through its office of International Student and Scholar Services and International Language and Education Center. These help students adjust to life in the US, including fluency in English.
The school’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Administration provides assistance with federal immigration regulations, international student orientation, cultural adjustment support, campus programs and events and advocacy for international students also help make the transition smoother.
So why is it important to attract international students? Regardless of the industry, businesses must think globally to succeed.
“There are also stiff challenges and fierce competition, whether an Oswego graduate works and lives abroad or in the USA,” McKeown added. “So having a keen understanding of cultural impacts on the workplace, coupled with a diverse global network of classmates, friends and faculty, helps frame all Oswego students’ educational and career pathways in a more sophisticated and effective way.”
That classmate from across the sea may offer a perspective unlike what domestic students have previously considered. The memories shared by an international roommate may help a local better understand a different culture. Living and learning amid America’s cultural differences — and, for some, discussing these experiences when they go back home — can also help people in other lands learn about the US in a more personal way.
McKewon believes that fostering a welcoming environment for international students has always been part of SUNY Oswego’s history, along with the school’s “deep roots and legacies here in Upstate New York,” he said.
At present, he doesn’t view the new administration in Washington as having any effect on the number of international students.
“Our overall international student population is reasonable for our campus size and character,” McKeown said.
SUNY Oswego doesn’t overly rely on their numbers, which McKeown said is “a great testament to the vision of our campus leadership and the effectiveness of our enrollment management and admissions functions.”
He hopes that any international perception that the United States is less hospitable to foreigners does not apply to SUNY Oswego.
“We at SUNY Oswego most definitely are welcoming and embracing of a culturally diverse student body because it is essential to our educational quality and reflective of our values,” McKeown said. “So I have great confidence that our institution will continue to enroll a high quality and diverse international student population.”