Undergraduate international student enrollment in the College of Engineering decreased by 151 students between 2018 and 2019.
In the fall of 2019, 564 international students were enrolled in the College of Engineering at Iowa State. The previous year had 715 international students, resulting in a 21.12 percent drop.
Joel Johnson, program director in the engineering administration, said this is a nationwide trend. Johnson said they are working to address the decline of international student enrollment with various tactics.
“There are a number of efforts as we think about [decline of international student enrollment] in regards to trying to address and increase interest again,” Johnson said. “So admissions and all the colleges are doing numerous, various international travels and meeting with the students internationally.”
The admissions representatives began taking international trips when international enrollment started to decline over the past two years. Johnson said the College of Engineering representatives travel mainly to India and China to network with prospective students, discussing the opportunities Iowa State has to offer if they choose to attend the American university.
One Iowa State student, Jagaruk Bhatt, sophomore in mechanical engineering, said he heard about Iowa State through a friend of his who was an Iowa State graduate. Bhatt is an India native who grew up in Uganda. He said his first year in Ames has been pretty easy since he studied engineering material while in high school, but what he has noticed here is a focus towards practical learning.
In addition to these trips, Iowa State is establishing a pipeline recruitment program where international students can study a few years at a university in their country. Afterwards the international students then finish their degree program at Iowa State.
Shannon Miner, graduate education student, is a program coordinator in Engineering Student Services.
“There are multiple models of what that looks like in terms of earning bachelor’s degrees from both institutions, earning a bachelor’s degree from an international institution and a master’s degree from Iowa State,” Miner said. “A lot of coordination goes into making sure students are taking coursework that will articulate and help them be successful at Iowa State.”
Although Miner could not elaborate on which international universities Iowa State is working with, she said much of the College of Engineering's focus is in India and China, but is not limited to those countries specifically.
Now that he is at Iowa State, Bhatt’s experience as an international student has been enhanced through his club involvement. He participates with a few university organizations that are among the 97 university organizations and clubs that were created to help multicultural students succeed academically and socially.
“I have attended this club, Hindu YUVA, and I have been there multiple times. There are many opportunities to organize events, such as Diwali,” he said. “So, I’ve got a chance to meet so many people from my hometown."
Hindu YUVA aims to have opportunities for students and faculty to learn about and practice Hindu Dharma, the ancient way of life mostly practiced in Indian subcontinents, according to Iowa State's Student Organization Database.
While Iowa State's College of Engineering is witnessing a decline of international students, the college does have over 500 undergraduate international engineering students from over 60 countries, regions and colonies as of spring 2020, according to the Engineering International Student Network website.