Tuscaloosa, Al — Over the past two years, The University of Alabama has faced a considerable increase in its undergraduate, graduate and non-degree international students population thanks to the efforts and agreements the University has made with other universities abroad.
Unike other years, in 2014 there has been a significant increase in the international graduate student population, but the biggest growth this year has been with non-degree students.
This growth can be accredited to the Brazilian Science Mobility Program, which increased the Brazilian Student Population at UA from 10 in 2012 to 127 students this year. This program consists on an agreement between the University and the Brazilian government, in which students study English for one semester at the English Language Institute and they then transfer to the College of Engineering to continue their respective studies for a full year.
“This year there has been a huge increase and biggest change in the ELI program so far.” Charter Morris, Capstone International Services Director said.
Morris said Chinese students account for more than half of the international student population at the Capstone in the present time, with the number increasing from four undergraduate Chinese students in 2008 to more than 500.
According to The Crimson White, the Fall semester at the University set an enrollment record of 36,155 undergraduate and graduate students; of those, 1,670 are international students from 77 different countries, which account for 4.6% of the total student population.
“Every year we’ve been growing from hundred to an additional hundred, and so on,” Morris said. “This year the growth was more significant with graduate and non-degree students.”
Morris explained that the average amount of students at the English Language Institute is of 200, however at the moment there are over 250 students enrolled, and since the fluctuation varies from session to session, it is hard to compare ELI numbers from year to year.
“We have six sessions per year, and the student numbers can go up and down very quickly.” Morris added.
On the other hand, it is important to consider the secondary factors that affect and determine the number of international students at the University and whether the stay for a short or long period of time. These factor include, but are not limited to the culture shock and the transition process from their home country to the United States.
The culture shock varies from student to student and it depends on where they come from, but the most common issues for international students are usually similar to the ones American students have to face.
“The college experience in Alabama is totally different from Brazil,” Michael Gandra, a junior majoring in Chemical Engineering from Sao Paulo, Brazil said. “Here you live on campus and have everything you need, and it does take some time to fully adapt.”
Examples of issues international students have to face on their transition:
First time being away from home
First time having to rely on themselves
First time having a roommate
Learning to share with other people