Money is a universal language
UB benefits financially from international students, campus benefits culturally
Published: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 15, 2013 16:09
On Sept. 13, UB announced it has enrolled a record-breaking amount of international students. Foreign students now make up 17 percent of the student body.
UB has been active in recruiting international students, bringing up questions about the nature of globalization and the university embracing an effort to globalize the institution.
The benefits of international diversity are clear: It enriches the experiences of all students by being able to interact with those from different backgrounds and cultures, expands individuals’ worldview and triggers us to consider multiple perspectives in our understanding of the world we live in. This is unequivocal – but the university’s motives are more commercial than that.
The in-state tuition for New York residents is $4,212.75 a semester; the out-of-state tuition for international students is about three times that amount. International students are a profitable resource.
It is almost comical the administrative officials have credited the spike in international enrollment as a reflection of the strategy of UB 2020, but it is perhaps not totally absurd. Globalizing the university has been part of the plan’s platform.
What we’re hoping UB will consider, as we see higher rates of international enrollment, is a strategy that says, ‘Because these students bring more revenue to help finance projects and initiatives to improve the school, the in-state tuition rates will stay down.’
International enrollment has economic benefits, especially when it serves as an equilibrium to keep tuition low for the majority of middle- and lower-class students from New York who attend the university because of its affordability.
What we’re hoping the university keeps in mind, as they celebrate the reporting of these new statistics, is the need for balance.
As we want to see more administrative balance in dealing with this issue, we want to see less social separation. An unfortunate trend we have noticed is international students tend to pack together; there is not enough integration with American students or effort from either party to try and change that.
We have heard innumerable stories of American students describing the enjoyment and nourishment that comes from interacting with students from other countries. Members of our editorial board have talked with students from Iran, China, Rwanda – and have felt these instances have been a wonderful component of their UB experience.
Students should be aware of the possible power of creating relationships with people from different cultures and countries on campus. Not only do foreign students often have fascinating stories, but they also provide a new lens for looking at the world and different methods of navigation for living in an increasingly global society.
As Carlos Salinas de Gortari, a Mexican economist, said: “Globalization is a fact of economic life.” UB deserves credit for taking an active role in recruiting more international students as it provides extended opportunities to foreign students, but it also increases American students’ opportunities to learn how to live and thrive in a global economy.
We should also be aware of how it benefits our personal development. One of the most important qualities and skills of being a human being is the ability to empathize – to know what it’s like to step in someone else’s shoes.
The German philosopher Johann Gottfried von Herder maintained that one of the primary ways people can develop empathy is through engagement with multiple perspectives.
As we continue along the academic year, we should remember Herder’s dictum and take advantage of the many benefits afforded to us by this increase in international enrollment.