University of Vermont

UVM International Gateway

Discussion Recommendations

An Internationalization discussion took place at the Board of Trustees, Committee of the Whole Meeting in February 2011. (Memo from Provost Knodell (PDF))

Initial recommendations for discussion

In keeping with internationalization’s alignment with our mission, its historical support on campus, and its ability to further the strategic objective of diversifying our sources of revenue, we have been exploring one aspect of internationalization in particular this year: increasing international student enrollment at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

There is consensus among the Deans, and growing consensus among other senior leaders, that an aggressive expansion of international enrollment at this time makes sense for a number of reasons. We have reached the undergraduate enrollment level upon which our growth model was predicated (10,150 students), thus our revenue base has reached a plateau that can only be altered by changes to either tuition levels or our financial aid model, both of which are extremely constrained. Additionally, we face declining demographics in Vermont and the Northeast — our critical admissions feeder markets*.

Another current challenge is the intense competition for high-quality domestic first year students who can add to our campus’s diversity. Finally, recent developments in the international education marketplace suggest that the time may be particularly ripe for action: interest in study in the United States is high due to changes in Australian visa requirements and changes to the tuition model in the UK. A number of US universities have already aggressively pursued international enrollment, and more are planning to enter the marketplace.

Our current international student enrollment at 1% of undergraduate students and 9.2% of graduate students lags behind most public and private universities, and certainly our peer and aspirant universities. The Institute of International Education Open Doors 2010 Fast Facts (PDF) (Appendix A) provides national trend information on international enrollment in the US. The following provides a quick sampling of undergraduate enrollment at several peer/aspirant institutions.

  • Boston University – 2.8%
  • Cornell – 8.5%
  • Miami University – 2.8%
  • Middlebury - 10.4%
  • Northeastern University – 7.4%
  • Skidmore – 3.3%
  • SUNY Binghamton – 9.6%
  • Syracuse – 5.3%
  • William and Mary – 2.6%

There are a variety of ways in which an institution can increase its international student enrollment and we will be conducting an evaluation of them.

Should we decide to move ahead with an aggressive international enrollment initiative, we are committed to doing it right. We will ensure that our internationalization efforts will not negatively impact Vermont students or academic quality. Additionally, we will not divert resources supporting increased ALANA student enrollment to international enrollment. Any approach we take will require us to engage with key constituencies to discuss and resolve a variety of issues. Here are just a few examples:

  • What services and programs will we need to create or enhance to accommodate the needs of more international students?
  • Are there facilities needs we will have to consider?
  • What is the relationship between internalization efforts and our programs and initiatives focused on domestic diversity?
  • Where will increased numbers of international students come from, and what are the implications?
  • What curricular adjustments might be necessary?

* The best projection of high school graduates by state and race/ethnicity is the March 2008 version of Knocking at the College Door, produced by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Per this report, Vermont high school graduates are projected to decline by 18.3% between 2009-2010 and 2019-2020. High school graduates in the Northeast are projected to decline 10.4% during the same period. Of particular concern is the projected decline in our top two feeder states: 8.6% in Massachusetts and 10% in Connecticut.

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