Bowling Green State University President Mary Ellen Mazey has made it clear – the welcome mat is out for
As the university seeks to expand its enrollment beyond the traditional market of American students 18 to
22 years old, the recruitment of international students is one of the bullet points.
A recent article in the Columbus Dispatch, based on numbers from the Ohio Board of Regents, though,
indicates BGSU has work to do.
The numbers showed that BGSU was one of only two public universities in the state that saw a decline from
2007 to 2012, dropping 8.2 percent, from 720 to 661 students.
The other was Central State, which dropped 75 percent, from 24 students to six.
Starting last year, said Marcia Salazar-Valentine, executive director for University Outreach, BGSU has
launched an initiative to bring in more foreign students. The plan should be fully implemented by fall
BGSU calculates the number of foreign students more conservatively than the state, she noted. Only
students who are in the country on student visas are included by BGSU while the state report counts
students who may be here for other reasons.
So while the state had the university enrolling 661 in 2012, her figures show the university with 624.
That number increased in 2013 to 642.
And further growth is on the agenda, Salazar-Valentine said.
When reached by telephone, she was working on just that, attending a conference in Washington, D.C.,
where she would meet with guidance counselors.
It’s all about getting the university’s message out, she said, not only to seniors, but to sophomores and
juniors as well. The goal is to increase the number of students who apply after they’ve inquired about
And it means increasing those inquiries by attending recruitment fairs and developing lists of students
"we think would be a good fit for BGSU."
The university is also developing a database of guidance counselors and "developing stronger
relationships" with them.
Recruiting also means traveling to where students are. University officials have taken trips to China,
China and countries in the Middle East send the most students to the university.
BGSU is taking a major step to improving students experience once they get here.
BGSU is negotiating with a new provider of an intensive English teaching program.
"This would serve as a pathway for international students who need to improve their language skills
before starting classes," Salazar-Valentine said.
The students would live on campus. If they are more integrated into campus life, she said, it’s
"more likely they’ll want to stay."
The College of Business draws the most undergraduate and graduate students from abroad, she said,
followed by the physical sciences, which attracts more graduate students, and computer science, which
attracts both undergraduates and graduates.
Also, popular are the biological sciences and the visual and performing arts, mostly for graduate study.
A collaboration with the University of Toledo promises to send about 50 Chinese aviation students to
campus in a couple of years.
The three-way consortium has students studying for a year at a school in China, transferring to UT where
the will earn an associate degrees, and then working toward a bachelor’s degree at BGSU.
The university is working similar collaborations with Chinese institutions, Salazar-Valentine said.
On a number of occasions, university officials have touted the value to the university of international
They typically require little scholarship support from the university.
As the traditional college-age population in the region declines, the university is seeking to recruit
non-traditional students. In addition to foreign students, it is looking at increasing the number of
older students and transfers and expanding its online offerings.