Campus: CSU, Long Beach -- January 5, 2000

International Students Find a Home at California State University, Long Beach

Not only is California State University, Long Beach considered a "hot campus" for students within the state, but that popularity has also spread around the world.

Within the last five years, the university has experienced an increase of nearly 300 percent in the number of international students enrolled in its degree programs. A total of 1,274 international students from 85 countries were registered in the fall of 1999 compared to 424 in the fall of 1994.

Cal State Long Beach also offers a non-credit program through its American Language Institute (ALI), which has an enrollment of some 170 students.

Paul Lewis, director of the Center for International Education (CIE), attributes the significant growth to several factors. "We have made great efforts to streamline our admissions process and make it student friendly," he said.

That means responding immediately to requests for information and, once the application arrives, contacting students right away if documents are missing. Also, the accessibility of the application form on CIE's Web site is a determinant.

"All of these kinds of things have increased the yield that we get from the initial request for information, and they are the single biggest factor in the population increase," Lewis noted.

Another factor has been CSULB's outreach efforts, including visits to embassies and educational missions in Washington, D.C. that sponsor students and pay for all of their college expenses. This fall, there were about 150 students from countries in the Middle East, whereas five years ago that number was about 10.

Other outreach activities include attending educational fairs in other countries and ensuring that CSULB's catalog and other relevant academic materials are available in the educational advising centers of U.S. embassies throughout the world.

"When the American Language Institute goes to Asia, Latin America or Europe, they recruit not only for the ALI program but more generally for the university," Lewis said.

The CIE director believes the most important reason to have international students is because of the diversity they bring.

"While it's true we have a diverse population because of permanent resident students from many parts of the world, the countries that numerous international students come from are different from the countries of our permanent resident students," Lewis said. "It's that kind of special mix we get from our international student population that increases our diversity."

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