NEW FACES, FARAWAY PLACES

Luke Taylor

Hard work has paid off. The Missouri Southern Institute of International Studies currently has one of the highest totals of international students that it has had in a long time, according to Stephanie Goad, international student adviser for the Institute. Goad said MSSU has about 100 international students enrolled this semester, compared to 78 in fall 2008. “Normally in the fall semester, our intake of new international students is about 30-35 at the most,” said Goad. “This semester our intake is close to 50.”Goad also notes that more importantly, the number of international students seeking a degree has increased to seven times as much as in the past. “Normally in the fall, at the very most, we have two to four new international degree-seeking students, and the rest are here on exchange for only one semester to a year. However, this fall, our number of new international degree-seeking students is 21.” She said the number of degree-seeking students is important because “those students will be around for the next four years, rather than only one semester.” The students come from various countries. “We have students hailing anywhere from Austria to Zimbabwe,” Goad said. “Nearly 40 countries are represented.” Some of this semester’s new students come from Oman, Nigeria, Thailand, Brazil and the Bahamas, as well as partner universities in Germany, Japan, France, Taiwan and China. Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of the Institute of International Studies, has several reasons for why the number is higher than prior semesters. “One very simple thing that we’ve done: every time we get an e-mail inquiry from a [prospective] international student, we try to respond within 24 hours.”He also said they maintain contact and try to “hustle” their competition. Other methods the Institute has utilized include working with area community colleges that have many international students, as well as using MSSU alumni who are studying abroad and any connections they have. The task of attracting new foreign students is a newer duty for the Institute. Stebbins said that previously it was one of the functions of admissions, but the Institute took on the responsibility in January 2009. “We worked hard in the spring and summer to attract new students,” he said. “It’s been a team effort on the part of the Institute of International Studies.”Goad is optimistic about the future number of international students at MSSU. “I’m extremely proud of the job our international admissions team is doing to recruit and receive new international students,” she said. “And it’s through efforts made over only six to seven months…if that is any indication of what the future holds, we should be seeing a lot more international students on our campus very soon.”