St. Thomas welcomes 401 international students

International enrollment at the University of St. Thomas continued its steady climb for a fourth consecutive year, according to the fall 2012 international enrollment report by International Student Services.

The total international population at the university this fall is 401, which is an increase of 4.7 percent from last year’s total, 383, and an even 100 more than fall 2008.

International students account for 3.8 percent of all students enrolled St. Thomas.

Undergraduates this fall accounted for 182, or 45 percent, of the total international population, while graduate, professional and law students accounted for 219, or 55 percent.

“There are an additional 47 students on Optional Practical Training above the 401 students enrolled at St. Thomas. These students have been granted permission to work anywhere in the U.S. in their field of study after they’ve completed their degrees at St. Thomas,” Lori Friedman, director of International Student Services at St. Thomas, noted.

Saudi Arabia

The top five most represented countries at St. Thomas remained the same as in the past, save for one significant change. Students from Saudi Arabia surged to 99 students, up 67.8 percent from last year’s total, 59. This was enough to surpass India for the top spot, which has 56 students (all graduate) studying at St. Thomas this fall. The other three top countries are: China (49), Uganda (31) and Nepal (16).

Friedman said “the university’s Saudi student population and rise matches the flow of how that population is growing around the country.”

Saudia Arabia is the sixth country of origin nationwide and likely will reach the top five as the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Higher Education continues to offer scholarships to Saudi students who wish to study in the United States and abroad.

A group of new, incoming international students pose on the lawn outside Morrison House with Father Dennis Dease, president of the university (front row, center), this fall.

Friedman also noted that St. Thomas’ International Recruiting and Admissions stepped up recruitment efforts to the country, sending staff to Saudi Arabia for the past two years to recruit students at fairs.

She added that the increase in Saudi students concurrently boosts the Muslim population at St. Thomas. “It might seem odd at first, why a Muslim student would choose a Catholic university, but when you think about it more, it makes a lot of sense,” she said. “St. Thomas is a place where faith is valued, so we are a very good fit for students looking for that to be a part of their higher educations.”

Report highlights

Here are more St. Thomas highlights from ISS’ fall 2012 international enrollment report:

  • International students represent 63 countries.
  • They represent six of the seven continents (Antarctica, of course, the exception).
  • New, incoming, degree-seeking undergraduate international students number 54, a 22.7 percent increase from fall 2011; their graduate, professional and law counterparts also rose: 21.4 percent with 51 students.
  • Most international students are in the School of Engineering (155; 38 percent), followed by Opus College of Business (111; 28 percent); College of Arts and Sciences (61; 15 percent); College of Education and Leadership (49; 12 percent); School of Divinity (11; 3 percent); Non-degree (7; 2 percent); and School of Social Work (3; 1 percent).

St. Thomas has been ranked fourth in international student enrollment in Minnesota and the highest among private colleges and universities, according to the Institute of International Education’s annual Open Doors report, which will be released Nov. 13. Open Doors reports on the previous school year’s findings. Other top Minnesota schools for international enrollment have been the University of Minnesota, St. Cloud State University and Mankato State University.

Read the entire ISS fall 2012 report on the ISS website.