The increase was expected as the Chronicle for Higher Education reported in July that the U.S. government had granted significantly more student visas than in years past. Admissions officers interviewed by the Chronicle said they attribute the rise to an improved visa process, more effective recruitment, and an increased perception that the U.S. is a welcoming destination for international students.
The Boston Globe points out that record enrollment is also due to the continuing weakness of the U.S. dollar. “Everyone wants an American education, but for many families the cost has been prohibitive,” said Marguerite Dennis, vice president for enrollment and international programs at Suffolk University, which attributes a sharp rise in international enrollment this fall to the exchange rate. “But now, the dollar has made coming here so much more attractive and realistic.”
New York, Los Angeles, and Boston maintain their positions as the leading host cities for international students. However, many smaller colleges and universities are seeing a sharp uptick in their enrollments as well.
The significance of all these numbers is that Intensive English Programs around the country are also experiencing increases in their enrollments. The years following September 11 hit these institutions hard, with visa restrictions playing a role. Now, though, relaxed visa regulations, a weaker dollar, and the increasing prominence of North American English are all combining to swell ESOL classrooms across the country.