Colleges cast a wider net
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 3, 2005
Community campuses try to lure foreign students
Most international students coming to Arizona plan to graduate with degrees from
one of the state's three universities, but a growing number are going through
Maricopa Community Colleges before tossing their graduation caps in the air.
Recruiters from Maricopa Community College international programs have been
flying to places such as Turkey, China and Latin America to tempt potential
international students with the idea of cheaper tuition and smaller class sizes.
Recruiters want to lure more international students to their campuses, hoping to
increase diversity and stabilize dropping international student enrollment
numbers since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"Recruiting in any way has become more important than it has before because of
9/11," said Therese Tendick, director of International Education Programs at
Scottsdale Community College. "We want to create more awareness of what
community colleges can do for international students."
Instead of sticking to traditional "armchair recruiting" tactics, such as
sending out pamphlets or creating Web sites, schools such as Scottsdale, Mesa
and Glendale community colleges have targeted international students with
"When you travel to recruit, you build a relationship with potential students,"
said Ida Mansourian, director of international education at Mesa Community
College. "They remember your face; they remember your
In 2003 there were about 10,300 international students in Arizona with the
Maricopa Community Colleges serving nearly 5 percent of those students. The
district had about 530 international students enrolled in classes in for the
2003-2004 academic year, up from nearly 470 students in 1998-1999. Mesa,
Scottsdale and Glendale community colleges are the top three schools for
international students in the district.
The Institute of International Education reported that about 96,000 of the
nearly 580,000 total international students attended two-year institutions in
the 2002-2003 academic year. Five years ago, there were about 10,000 fewer
international students at community colleges.
SCC international student Freddy Chacon, 22, first came to the United States to
learn English at Arizona State University but started attending SCC to save
money. "I explain to my friends in Venezuela that community college is like half
of a university," Chacon said. "But you do it in a cheaper way and you have more
contact with the professors."
And for the colleges, "These international students bring good revenue to our
college and the community," Mansourian said.
In 2003 international students contributed $209.6 million to the Arizona
economy, IIE reported.
But Mansourian, Tendick and others say the intangible things international
students contribute to colleges are more valuable than revenue.
"International students give a global perspective to students who might have
tunnel vision about the world," Tendick said. "You cannot quantify the value of
what international students give to our campus."