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UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 13 | Nov. 7, 2002

International Student Initiative Attracts More Students Every Year

Recruitment Efforts Account for Major Increases

By Michelle Cook

Listen to any conversation on campus and you’re likely to hear Spanish, Arabic or Chinese being spoken, not to mention an increasing number of American accents.

Students from around the world are showing an overwhelming interest in UBC, thanks to the International Student Initiative (ISI). Launched in 1996 as part of the university’s Trek 2000 vision, ISI is responsible for promoting UBC to potential applicants overseas and recruiting a broad range of international students.

The ISI’s efforts to diversify the student body are changing the face of UBC. This past September, 572 new fee-paying international undergraduates arrived on campus, bringing the total number of international students to 1,514 (or five per cent of undergraduates) for the 2002/03 academic year. In addition, the number of applications from international students spiked 47 per cent over last year’s figure.

“There’s really been a metamorphosis,” says Don Wehrung, the Initiative’s director. “Prior to 1996, we did not actively recruit undergraduate students from outside of Canada, but since the initiative started, our intake of international undergraduates has increased by 27 percent every year.”

Wehrung adds that, during the same period, the university’s international exchange programs and professional graduate programs also experienced significant growth.

While the recent increased interest in UBC from overseas has been linked to the events of Sept. 11, Wehrung says the principal reason for growth is that UBC has actively gone out to seek qualified undergraduates.

To help attract foreign students, ISI introduced International Student Awards in fall 2001. The financial aid initiative offers 10 to 12 awards annually that require nominees to demonstrate both high financial need and high academic merit. Worth $14,000 to $30,000 annually, the renewable awards are open to qualified international students who otherwise couldn’t afford to come to UBC.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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