International Enrollment Grows


Brad Stout/The Chart

From right: Asad Altayeb, Talal Almutairi, Khalid Alanazi, Naif Alghamdi, Natividad Cielo and Ria Arai sit and listen to their instructor Kaitlin Gram, assistant professor of the International English Program (IEP), on April 24 during the Speaking and Listening Level 2 IEP course.

Number of Saudi Arabian students increases.

The number of Saudi Arabian students is quickly growing on Missouri Southern’s campus. 

When Kimberly Kester, director of the International English Program, came to Missouri Southern as an adjunct teacher four years ago, there were around 15 international students in the IEP and only two levels of English classes were offered.

Now there are on average 50 students in the IEP with 5 levels of English classes. The maximum number of students allowed in the IEP is 75 students; that is swiftly being approached.

The IEP enrollment for the fall 2011 semester consisted of 17 Saudi Arabian students, six Japanese, two Chinese, two Taiwanese, one Hispanic, one Filipino, one Russian, one Iraqi and one German student.

The Saudi Arabian students made up 53 percent of that semester’s enrollment.

Compared to this spring’s semester, the percentage of Saudi Arabian students climbed 14.5 percent by adding seven new Saudi students.

Also this semester, four Vietnamese students, one Korean and one African student were enrolled in the IEP, increasing the diversity of the program.

“What really instigated our growth was that we were approved by the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM) to receive Saudi students and most of them are majoring in paramedic or health science programs,” said Kester.

SACM gives the students 18 months to learn English.

“They chose to give them a year and a half based on the English proficiency they were supposed to acquire at home, but if you know anything about learning languages, that’s not possible,” said Kester.

Kester explains the problem is that the school systems in Saudi Arabia are different than the school systems in other countries. Their proficiency expectations differ from those of the States. This is happening to universities across the country. Every university in the United States that has an IEP program is inundated with Saudi students, Kester said.

“Every time I go to a convention, this is a predominant issue, that Saudi students are coming in large numbers and we are having to make our university able to support them in whatever way they need,” said Kester.

Abdulaziz Alkopra and Meshari Alnefaie are level one Saudi Arabian students with little knowledge of the English language. This spring is their first semester. They found Missouri Southern on the SACM website and decided to come here based on the fact that is a small and simple university.

Alkopra likes Missouri Southern because it is small enough so that he can meet new people and make friends. Both Alkopra and Alnefair agree the school has a lot to offer and they are excited about their time here.

“I like it here, but I don’t like Joplin. It’s kind of boring, there’s not a lot to do,” said Alkopra.