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WIU aims to continue increase in international student enrollment

Kim Jaeglin
Courtesy photo
Kim Jaeglin

Western Illinois University's international student enrollment is the highest it's been in 30 years. The number sits at 658.  Of that total, 234 are returning from last year and 424 are new.

TSPR talked to a couple students about why they felt WIU was right for them. We also talked to the person who is in charge of recruiting international students for WIU.Listen to the story

The Students  

Marcos Broch, of Spain, is a junior at WIU, but is only here for one semester. Broch had the option to choose between universities in New York, Kentucky, Iowa, and Illinois. 

Marcos Broch
Courtesy photo
Marcos Broch

Broch said he chose WIU for its small class sizes. He said he was also drawn to Macomb by the amount of hands-on experience he would attain. It’s something he does not get as much of in Spain. 

“I wanted to experience other teaching methods, experiencing a new culture, and that’s why I came. I wanted to go a little bit out of my comfort zone,” said Broch. “These four or five months have been totally practical.”  

Broch says the biggest challenge has been being away from his family for the first time. His hometown, Burriana, is a short jaunt to Jaume I University (Broch’s school). 

He said with the help of newly created friends and the WIU Center for Global Studies, he’s made the adjustment. 

“They’re still there if we need them. I have had a couple doubts while I've been here. I contacted them [the Center for Global Studies] and they sorted it out, so I think they are doing a great job,” Broch said. 

In Broch's free time he has traveled to cities such as Chicago and Miami, but he wasn’t alone. Broch says he travels with other international students who also want to make the most of their short time here.  

Among the students Broch has traveled with is Kim Jaeglin. She is no stranger to travel; she has spent time in England and other countries as part of her international education.

Jaeglin, who’s from France, also chose WIU over other U.S. options, though coming to the U.S. was not her first choice.

She said she came here as part of a business program called Atlantis.

“Between the program and the university we chose Western,” Jaeglin said.

“It's pretty cool. You [WIU] have so much student life and that’s pretty amazing. I don't think I've seen any campus with that many student organizations, activities for students, or resources for students.” 

When Jaeglin earns a masters in business administration from Western, she will have spent one year in the U.S. Jaeglion said she wants to continue a “traveling lifestyle” when she enters the workforce.

Western’s Goals for International Student Recruitment

Students choose WIU for different reasons. A recurring theme is that international students like Macomb and the physical attractiveness of the campus.

Randy Glean
Courtesy photo
Randy Glean

Dr. Randy Glean, Executive Director of the Center for Global Studies, is the person responsible for recruiting international students to WIU. He said Macomb is as good of a place as any to receive a college education. He said this is due in part by the small amount of distractions Macomb poses in addition to the low cost. 

“The cost factor is what I think drives a significant portion of the international student recruitment market,” Glean said.

“Most people who are coming to the United States are coming with a dream, they’re not coming with a wad (of cash).” 

According to Glean, about 60 countries are represented at Western. He said one of WIU’s goals is to have at least 75 countries represented. Glean is shooting even higher – he would like to have at least 85 countries represented and approximately 1,200 international students. 

While higher enrollment numbers are a goal, Glean said the value of education is the main objective.

“One of the things that we’re proud of is that we grew, and we also grew in quality. The academic quality of our new recruits surpasses that of what we had previously when we had lesser numbers,” Glean said. 

Glean said WIU needs community participation to achieve its international student enrollment goals. He said an increase in international students benefits not only Western but the entire Macomb community.

Glean said he’s started a community outreach project to get the full support of the area. 

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Copyright 2021 Tri States Public Radio. To see more, visit Tri States Public Radio.

Dylan Smith