Oregon State University is welcoming a lot of new faces from around the world this fall as INTO OSU gets under way. The new initiative is bringing 200-300 students to OSU from places around the globe, ranging from Saudi Arabia to China, and adding to the university’s diversity.
The partnership enhances an OSU goal to double the university’s international enrollment. Last Friday, the OSU INTO Center held an open house in the newly remodeled Heckart Lodge, a former student co-op which has been transformed into classroom and office space for the program. Dozens of INTO students, OSU administrators and others poured into the colorfully painted rooms during the open house, munching orange cupcakes and chatting in many languages.
Provost and Executive Vice President Sabah Randhawa, who attended the open house, said INTO OSU is ahead of target in terms of students in the pathway program who will be transferring into degree programs at OSU next fall after year of preparatory courses.
“It’s been great,” Randhawa said of the first year of the INTO OSU partnership.
Russian student Sam Zhernakov was drawn to OSU because he wanted to strengthen his academic English before transferring into a tourism program. His friend Aya Tabeya from Japan is planning on getting a degree in athletic training from OSU after completing English courses.
“To study English abroad is better,” than taking it at home, Zhernakov said, and because OSU is located in a relatively small city rather than a major urban center means there are fewer distractions for him. “In a big city you think about fun,” he said. “Here you just think about study.”
Tabeya thinks that a degree from OSU will help her in the job market. “It’s hard to get a job in Japan,” she said.
INTO founder and chairman Andrew Colin also was present for the INTO OSU open house. OSU is the first American university to partner with INTO, and although Colin said the university isn’t yet well known internationally, that can be an advantage.
“You’ve got a secret gem here,” he said of OSU. “It’s fabulous and it’s undiscovered.”
Because OSU has a lower international student population than the British universities, where INTO already has partnerships, he said it’s been a fun experience building up international student numbers.
“It’s very exciting being involved on the ground floor and working to building something up,” he said.
It’s been easy to sell OSU to international students because the university offers a high quality of life, a high level of personal safety for students, and a high quality, research-intensive university, Colin said. He said the campus has already been welcoming to incoming students, who have integrated quickly.
“There’s an appetite here to engage with international students,” he said, adding that the INTO students he spoke with at OSU were already comfortable in their new surroundings.
Colin praised the INTO students for deciding to choose to come to the United States for their university experience, far from friends, family and familiar languages.
“I’m just full of respect for the courage and commitment they show,” he said.
~ Theresa Hogue