Despite a recent dip in the number of students from out of the United States attending Ohio University, OU President Roderick McDavis’ time in office has marked an overall boost in the number of international students enrolled.
The number of international students on campus increased as a whole from 979 when McDavis started his presidency in 2004 to 1,695 in 2015. International enrollment peaked in 2013 with 1,859 students, according to data from OU’s Office of Institutional Research.
International students typically represent about 7 percent of total enrollment.
Enrollment has been decreasing in recent years, though university officials are not certain what is causing the decline. In Fall Semester 2015, there were roughly 1,700 international students on campus. That number decreased to about 1,500 students on campus during Fall Semester 2016, the biggest drop in the past five years, according to university records.
“We are continuing our analysis related to our changing enrollments for international students,” Craig Cornell, senior vice provost for Strategic Enrollment Management, said in a previous Post report. “We are seeing that changing economics in the countries that send us the largest number of students, increased competition and a need for a more proactive marketing effort overseas were all instrumental in our decline in enrollments this past fall.”
National numbers do not reflect the dip in international student enrollment that has taken place at OU in recent years. For the 2015-16 school year, the number of international students studying in the U.S. increased by 7.1 percent, according to an article from Inside Higher Ed.
Those numbers have been climbing for several years.
Between 2008 and 2015, OU has received more than $2 million in international donations, according to a previous Post report.
While revenue and donations are a factor when entering into partnerships with universities around the world, “the benefits for our students for pursuing research, education and experiential learning are the driving force behind these partnerships,” Lorna Jean Edmonds, vice provost for Global Affairs, said in an email.
Chinese students make up the second largest population of students following the U.S., with 612 enrolled for the Spring Semester 2016 — about 450 more than the next highest, Saudi Arabia.
McDavis discussed the importance of international partnerships, particularly Asian institutions, with The Post in 2015.
“Our future relevancy and distinction in the higher education community depends upon our ability to sustain international linkages such as these,” McDavis said in an email.
Despite the increase in international enrollment under McDavis, international students on campus have mixed opinions on McDavis’ relationship with the international population in Athens, International Student Union President Hashim Pashtun said.
In his experience as ISU president, Pashtun said McDavis has been very involved with the activities of ISU, including holding monthly meetings with Pashtun.
“I know many international students who are happy with his performance, and there are some people who are concerned,” Pashtun said.
OU President Roderick McDavis is leaving February 17. The Post looks back at his time as Ohio's president. Click this box to read the rest of the stories from this issue.