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International Student Enrollment at WIU Increases by Over 100

September 15, 2014

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MACOMB, IL -- Western Illinois University's international student enrollment has reached more than 500, thanks to the diligence of Center for International Studies (CIS), administrators, faculty and staff.

Rick Carter, executive director of the School of Distance Learning, International Studies and Outreach, along with WIU administrators and Western's English as a Second Language (WESL) director, have crossed the oceans and traversed to embassies in Washington, D.C., establishing relationships, forging partnerships and spreading the good word about Western Illinois University. As a result, new international student enrollment has increased by 140 this fall to 511 students from 370 in Fall 2013.

"In 2012, when President Thomas charged us to grow international enrollment to make Western a more global campus, we had 342 international students. Since that initial charge, we have increased by 169 students. The higher number of international students attending WIU is due to a targeted and concentrated effort of recruiting. These students bring global perspectives into the classrooms and research labs, which is absolutely essential in this day and age. Our international community provides not only incredible learning opportunities for our campus, but enriching cultural and social experiences as well," Carter said. "It is the University's mission to have a more global campus as international students contribute cultural and economic value to our campus and community. They also help us to make connections between WIU and other countries."

According to a new report released by the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program, foreign students can be valuable assets to local business communities that are seeking to expand globally and the wider metropolitan economies in which they sit. International students contribute $24.7 billion to the U.S. economy through their expenditures on tuition and living expenses, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Higher education is among the United States' top service sector exports, as international students provide revenue to the U.S. economy and individual host states for living expenses, including room and board, books and supplies, transportation, health insurance, support for accompanying family members and other miscellaneous items.

The top five countries, of the 57 represented at WIU, include Saudi Arabia (128 students), India (123), Brazil (75), China (41) and Nigeria (22).

Western currently has partnerships in place with Gwangju University (South Korea), Shanghai/Donghai (China) Vocational and Technical College, the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program, Konan Women's University in Japan, Beijing WUZI University and the International Language and Business Centre in Myanmar. For the last two years, Carter, along with WIU President Jack Thomas, has visited more than 30 embassies in Washington, D.C., and Carter has participated in the invitation-only State of Illinois-sponsored Higher Education Trade Mission to China. David Bell, director of WESL, has visited educational officials in Iraq, and Dana Vizdal, assistant director of international orientation and activities, is participating in the AEO Student Recruitment Tour of Asia for the second consecutive year. In addition, several faculty have participated in the Faculty Ambassador's program during their international travel to aid in recruitment efforts.

"We welcome students from all over the world to our campus, our classrooms and our community," said WIU President Jack Thomas. "Western Illinois University is committed to providing international students with the support needed to have a successful college experience."

For more information on Western's Center for International Studies, including WESL and study abroad programs, visit

Posted By: WIU News (
Office of University Relations