Washington State seeks to increase foreign students

Washington State University wants to increase the number of students from foreign countries who enroll at the Pullman-based school.

The university this week signed an agreement with a company that recruits international students.

“Enhancing international diversity on campus is critically important,” school President Kirk Schulz said.

The effort is part of the school’s goal to become one of the nation’s top 25 public research universities by 2030.

Washington State has about 30,000 students, two-thirds of them at its main campus in rural Pullman and the rest at branches in Spokane, Vancouver, the Tri-Cities and Everett.

The university currently has about 2,100 students from 100 foreign countries, about 7 percent of the student population, said Craig Lawson, spokesman for International Programs. The three biggest sources are China, India and Oman, he said.

There is no specific goal yet for the desired number of foreign students, he said.

“Suffice it to say we want to see that percentage go up, at least into double digits,” Lawson said.

The school will not deny enrollment to any in-state students in favor of international students, Lawson said.

“We are looking at overall growth in enrollment,” Lawson said.

To help achieve its goal, Washington State has signed with INTO University Partnerships, a private company with its U.S. headquarters in San Diego. INTO works with more than 20 universities around the world to expand international student enrollment.

The collaboration will create INTO Washington State University, which will develop academic pathway programs for international students to improve their English language skills while preparing to become degree-seeking students at WSU.

Washington State is the ninth university in the United States to team with INTO, which to date has helped U.S. universities recruit more than 15,000 students.

“INTO’s commitment to student success really got our attention,” said Asif Chaudhry, vice president for international programs at WSU and former U.S. ambassador to Moldova.

The most important consideration in the initiative is the cultural gains that additional international students will bring to the university, Chaudhry said