San Mateo Colleges register int’l growth

Published 28/09/2018

San Mateo Colleges of Silicon Valley, a group of community colleges in California, reported a 1,700% growth in international students since 2012, according to the colleges’ provost, international affairs, Jing Luan.

The international student presence on San Mateo Colleges’ three campuses went from about 80 in 2012 to 1,500 in the academic year 2017-2018.

“Over 90% of students we met abroad only knew about applying directly as university freshmen”

Luan attributes the result to an “innovative and unconventional” approach, aimed at changing international students’ perceptions of community colleges and making them aware of their educational offer – and ultimately, boosting the colleges’ position within the international education industry.

“Painfully, we discovered that community colleges are often poorly understood abroad and even sneered at by many,” he explained.

“Over 90% of students we met abroad only knew about applying directly as university freshmen.”

While transferring from community college to a 4-year institution is a well known and accepted practice in the US, Luan explained that it is hardly understood elsewhere.

“It hurts to see students abroad possessing biased information… therefore, we set out to change that, one country at a time, and we did just that,” Luan concluded.

About 75% of San Mateo’s international students are from Asia and the Middle East, with about 30% coming from China. The colleges’ second largest source of students is Myanmar, and the third is Nepal.

An analysis by NAFSA released earlier this year found that international students studying at community colleges in the US contributed $2.4billion to the US economy and supported more than 14,000 jobs in the 2016/17 academic year.

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