By Shianna Gibbons
According to data released by Youngstown State University, international student enrollment increased 65% from fall 2021 despite the 4% decline in overall enrollment.
YSU welcomed its largest group of international students – 561 – for the 2022-2023 academic year. According to the fall 2022 Preliminary Enrollment Summary, 340 international students attended in the fall of 2021; an additional 221 international students enrolled.
Carly Devenburgh, associate director of international students services, said there were several reasons for the increased international enrollment.
“There was a COVID backlog. Students have been trying to come for years, but the embassy and border closures [stopped them],” Devenburgh said. “That led to the large enrollment, but certainly, we have a lot of recruitment efforts in place. We have agents worldwide assisting us in recruiting students.”
The international programs office has a separate admissions team. Devenburgh said a mixture of agents, representatives and staff are overseas in different countries promoting YSU as an option for students.
“Our supervisor, the associate provost for international and global initiatives, is on a recruitment trip right now in Southeast Asia,” Devenburgh said. “We also have two representatives overseas, one in Nepal and one in Vietnam, assisting us.”
Devenburgh said the affordability, size and great programs are the most significant selling points for YSU.
“The affordability and the great programs we offer [are big factors]. We have a lot of students enrolled in STEM programs, [and] the engineering program’s [Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology] accreditation. With the Honors College, students can get great scholarship packages,” Devenburgh said. “Our population isn’t so big that they get lost. We get to know our students, and they get to know their faculty since we have a small student-to-faculty ratio.”
YSU’s international program has students from all over the world, but an overwhelming majority of students hail from Nepal.
“Several years ago, we welcomed a great group of students from Nepal, and that has built over the years. The students have a great experience here, and they tell their friends,” Devenburgh said. “It’s a great price point for the students from that part of the world as well as the scholarships they’re able to get and they’re high-quality students too. So they add so much to the classroom.”
Nicholas DuBos, the coordinator of international student services, said the international student program’s goal is to ensure the students are happy here.
“The point is we want our students to be happy, and we want them to feel at home. The department’s overall goal is for the students to be happy, given opportunities and meeting [new] people,” DuBos said. “Because we know when being so far away, it’s not easy. [So] we want it to be great.”
The international student program hosts different events each month to ensure students are given the opportunity to build relationships and be a part of a community.
“The last few years have been difficult, and so it’s kind of starting from scratch,” DuBos said. “The students liked International Coffee Hour, so we’re going to try and have those twice a month. Coming up on Sunday, we’re going to White House Fruit Farms.”
Nguyen “Moona” Dinh, a sophomore in nursing, said she learned of YSU through the agency in Vietnam.
“I found out about YSU through the [YSU] Vietnamese agency,” Dinh said. “YSU is a good option with tuition, living cost and the nursing program here is good, I would almost say famous.”
Dinh said her favorite thing about Youngstown, Ohio is the location.
“From YSU it is really easy to go to a big city like New York [City], Boston or Pittsburgh. It is really close,” Dinh said. “I’ve [been] traveling a lot and it’s really easy to get around.”
For a list of events held by the International Programs Office, visit its page on YSU’s website.