Virginia Tech welcomed its largest-ever population of new international students this semester — 549 new undergraduate and 590 new graduate students.

Overall, total international student enrollment jumped 17 percent from 3,041 in fall of 2014 to 3,573 in fall of 2015.

The enrollment numbers indicate a 46 percent increase in new international undergraduate students, according to data from Cranwell International Center,  The Graduate School reported a 40 percent increase in new international graduate students. 

“What an awesome opportunity to engage with students from around the world without ever leaving Blacksburg,” said David Clubb, director of Cranwell International Center. “International students help prepare American students to live and work in a world that now demands a global perspective and an ability to work across cultures.”

Undergraduate and graduate international students have come to Virginia Tech from more than 90 different countries. The most — 1,590 — hail from China; India is the second most-represented country, with 586 students.

The top major for international undergraduate students is general engineering, and the top department for graduate students is electrical engineering. However, Monika Gibson, director of student services for the Graduate School, noted that the students are in programs across the university’s colleges.

Gibson said international students have made up about 30 percent of graduate school enrollment for more than 10 years, but this year’s bump was a surprise. “It speaks to the high quality of our programs and services and positive word-of-mouth recommendations by our international alumni," she added.

Clubb noted that Cranwell is committed to Virginia Tech’s globalization initiatives and serves as one of the primary support services for the international community. Cranwell also works in partnership with International Graduate Student Services to ensure institutional compliance with a wide range of federal regulations governing the university’s ability to enroll international students.

Cranwell and the Graduate School help students integrate into the campus community, and student organizations reach out to international students to engage them in academic and social activities.

“Welcoming the largest number of new international students to campus this fall is definitely something to celebrate,” said Clubb. “At the same time, it is critical to understand that the benefits and contributions of international students cannot be realized unaided. We must develop and implement the support structures to ensure their academic success and social integration.”

Clubb and Gibson said throughout the semester, Cranwell, the Graduate School, and members of the larger university community will discuss and explore the challenges and opportunities that come with increased international student enrollment. Their goal is to develop a comprehensive plan to support and celebrate international students while promoting greater engagement and inclusion across the entire university student population.

“Our students bring the world to our doors,” Gibson added. “We have to find creative ways to help them share with and become part of the larger Virginia Tech community as we work toward a more inclusive, more internationally engaged, and more globally prepared university.”

Clubb said Cranwell and the Graduate School plan to co-sponsor a kick-off event for a campus-wide conversation around inclusion and diversity in the spring semester. The ultimate goal, Clubb said, is to ensure that all students develop a level of intercultural competency necessary for productive and responsible citizenship in a world that is increasingly interconnected and interdependent.

Cranwell and its partners continue to develop activities aimed at promoting interaction among all students. One opportunity this week is the Fall 2015 International Tailgate on Friday, October 9, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Hosted by the Cranwell International Center, Global Education Office, Graduate School, International Support Services, and Language and Culture Institute, this event will take place at 417 Clay Street, which is located behind the tennis courts and can be accessed by the walkway on Washington Street. Traditional tailgate-style food will be served as the community gathers prior to kickoff as the Hokies take on North Carolina State. All members of the campus community are welcome to attend.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Cranwell International Center at 540-231-6527 or email during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to the event.

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