April 11, 2010

University Named as Destination for International Students

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In a world where information, products and people move quickly and easily between countries, education has become increasingly international. As more students leave their home countries seeking higher education in others, Cornell has established itself at the forefront of destinations for international students in the U.S., according to a recent ranking in Asian Correspondent.

The news and blogging website, which is directed mainly at South Asian and Pacific Asian readers, listed Cornell University as one of the “Top Ten International Universities in the United States.”  Other ranked institutions included Columbia University, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Purdue University and the University of Illinois.

The article distinguished Cornell as “arguably the most educationally diverse member of the Ivy League,” an institution whose students represent every state and 120 nations. The ranking also lauded the vast and diverse array of courses offered at the University.

Brendan O’Brien, director of Cornell’s International Students and Scholars Office, greeted the ranking as“recognition of the many great programs and opportunities available for all students at Cornell.”

He stressed the importance of international students in American higher education.

“They bring billions into the U.S. economy, improve relations between the U.S. and countries around the world, and play an important role in preparing our graduates to succeed in the global economy,” O’Brien.

In spite of the ranking, some studying at Cornell expressed some surprise at Cornell’s being place on the list, questioning whether the University does enough for their international students.

“In China, Cornell has the reputation of being extremely petty, because it [offers only very limited financial aid] for international students,” said Lei Liu ’12, a student from Guangzhou, China.

He also described a lack of in-depth orientation programs to help foreign students adjust and deal with “the dual challenge of trying to get used to the culture and the academic environment at the same time.”

S.A. International Representative At-Large Andrew Brokman ’11 cited the same problem.

“Perhaps the silver bullet to this issue lies in orientation programming,” he said, advocating increased efforts to help international students “step outside their comfort zones and meet new people.”

Despite these shortcomings, both Liu and Brokman expressed positive overall opinions of the international student experience at Cornell.

“I was never, ever bored at Cornell because I feel that I live in the United Nations. Though problems still exist … Cornell’s commitment to diversity is extraordinary,” Liu stated.

Dean of Students Kent Hubbell summarized the importance of keeping Cornell international.

“We all benefit from the wonderful students who come to Cornell from all over the world to study. All of us are enriched by their presence on our campus,” he said.

Original Author: Eliza LaJoie