/Where Are the International Students?

Where Are the International Students?


By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

They are coming back … gradually

From spectator events to family reunions, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted, canceled and postponed all kinds of gatherings. It also made attending school challenging for SUNY Oswego’s international students. 

“Many international students decided to stay in the US during COVID to finish their studies but the number of new students dropped off severely at first,” said Joshua McKeown, associate provost for international education and programs at SUNY Oswego. 

In 2020, many international students returned home and some switched to all online classes. Typically, Oswego welcomes more than 250 international students from more than 60 countries every year. The on-campus enrollment of international students in fall 2020 decreased to 121 total. 

“It was quite dramatic,” McKeown.

“In fall 2020, we had almost 50 international students studying online instead of on campus,” McKeown said. “Total enrollment was better because of that but it was not what either the students or we wanted.” 

By spring 2022, Oswego began to see more international students return to the school. McKeown noted that 74 new students enrolled, along with additional returning students for a total of 228 international students on campus.  

“That semester was the real turnaround,” he added.

While the convenience and flexibility of online classes appeals to many students, from his perspective, McKeown views the lack of international students on campus as detracting from the campus culture.

“We value their diverse cultural perspectives and the contributions they make toward our campus’ goals of global learning for all,” he said. “Classrooms are more vibrant and informed by their global perspectives, residence halls more interesting for their cultural contributions, and our overall enrollment is more robust and sustainable.”

He thinks that attending classes at Oswego is attractive to all students, including international students, for a variety of reasons. 

“We have it all: strong academics with the highest accreditations, safe and clean campus environment, a welcoming student body with dedicated staff, and the right mix of rigorous structure and personal freedom to pursue their own dreams,” McKeown said.

At publication, McKeown said he would have no final enrollment figures for the 2022-2023 school year for international students until enrollment week, as many students need considerable time to confirm their student visa appointments and interviews, but “we definitely are seeing a huge rebound from the worst of the pandemic,” he said. 

Please follow and like us: