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Kentucky colleges, universities unite to recruit international students

by UofL Today last modified Feb 02, 2010 02:17 PM

Kentucky universities and colleges are joining forces to increase the number of international students who come to the state to study.

Under the name Study Kentucky, the 28-member consortium hopes to increase the number of international students in the state by 50 percent. Right now, only 1.9 percent of Kentucky's students are from other countries.

There are several reasons to do that, said Ted Farrell, a University of Louisville law student who is heading the effort, at a Jan. 29 meeting of the institutions at UofL.

International students help strengthen some overall programs, increase campus cultural diversity and U.S. students' awareness of the world and increase connections between Kentucky and the rest of the world that continue when students return to their native countries. Those connections have the potential for developing business relationships with companies in other countries.

Representatives from EducationUSA, a U.S. Department of State program; the International Trade Division of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development; and the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce also spoke to the group.

Often, they said, government resources for recruiting international students are not available to individual universities, but they are available to a consortium. Study Kentucky can access grants, electronic marketing venues, virtual campus tours and other recruitment tools that members would not be able to access alone. Many of the services they can provide university consortia are free or inexpensive when the costs are divided among members.

Study Kentucky is not Farrell's first experience with such a consortium. A professor of American literature at Hanover from 1991 to 2007, he also was director of the Haq Center for Cross-cultural Education at Hanover College starting in 2001.

"At Hanover, we were founding members of Destination Indiana and found it to be an extremely valuable way to increase our international profile without breaking our budget," he said. He began his current effort to start one in Kentucky after trying to volunteer for Kentucky's parallel organization and finding that there was none.

Farrell's idea gained support from Mordean Taylor-Archer, vice provost for diversity and equal opportunity, and from Bill Pierce, dean of UofL's Graduate School.

"Dr. Farrell came with a vision," Taylor-Archer said at the organizational meeting. "We all recognize the efforts [he] has taken to get us to this point."

The temporary volunteer steering committee of Study Kentucky plans to meet in mid-February to sign articles of incorporation and call a meeting of the membership. Members will then meet in spring to adopt by-laws and elect an official steering committee.

The consortium's first recruitment activities should take place in the fall.

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