International Enrollment Increases Despite National Decreases


Contrary to national trends, there is an increase in international enrollment at Fordham (Sofia LaBella).

By Erica Scalise

Contrary to national trends, there is an increase in international enrollment at Fordham (Sofia LaBella for The Fordham Ram).

Despite a nationwide decrease in international student enrollment, Fordham has seen a steady increase in both undergraduate and graduate international enrollment.
175 universities provided data to the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) for the Fall 2016 and Fall 2017 admission cycles. The CGS survey reported a 5.5 percent decline in international graduate enrollment.

In Fall 2008, Fordham had 473 international graduate students. From Fall 2011 to Fall 2012, an increase in 285 students was reported and by Fall 2016, 1,540 international graduate students were enrolled at Fordham.

In the Gabelli School of Business (GSB) graduate program, slight increases in international enrollments occurred, namely those in finance and analytics portfolios, according to Lawrence J. Mur’ray, senior assistant dean of the Gabelli School of Business graduate program. Mur’ray said the university’s location largely contributes to this.

“There is no doubt that our location in New York City, as well as a long history of international partnerships and global education have allowed us to maintain our place as a destination for international education,” said Mur’ray.

Jodi Hunt, director of admissions for the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham, said that the university has seen international enrollment increase for a variety of reasons.

“We are steady in our international numbers due to the option of online learning,” said Hunt. “Our students who cannot get visas or have difficulty leaving their place of ministry can study where they are, anywhere in the world.”

In the case of the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education, Hunt said that it is common for international students to seek out Fordham.

“This is not unusual for a ministry school like ours as ordained religious [personnel] come to our school from all over the world and take our courses online,” said Hunt. “We also have on campus international students as well who often are able to live and work in NYC as visiting religious [personnel] or priests while they study with us. Most find work within the Archdiocese of New York.”

The Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education has seen a slight decrease in international applications over the past three years. Twenty five students applied in Fall 2016, 22 in Fall 2017 and 10 in Fall 2018.

The JD program at Fordham Law School has also seen consistent enrollment of international students over the last three years according to Kathryn Espiritu, director of admissions at Fordham Law. The number of international students in the 2015-2017 classes has stayed between 22 and 24 students since the year 2015, maintaining steady enrollment.

According to the Office of Institutional Research, undergraduate international enrollment is also increasing steadily. There were 365 international students enrolled in 2011. By the fall of 2016 the number had nearly doubled to 716 students.

In May of 2017, The Ram reported an increase in geographical diversity. According to John Buckley, associate vice president for undergraduate enrollment, the Class of 2020 had 192 international students. Last year, the university admitted 2,814 international students from more than 100 countries.

There has also been a steady increase in enrollment of Chinese and Indonesian students and consistent enrollment in the past three years of Canadian, Filipino, Italian and South Korean students.

Chinese students comprise the majority of international graduate and undergraduate students with 1,138 graduate and 375 undergraduate students enrolled in Fall 2016. Compared to 15 graduate and 18 undergraduate students from the Philippines and 53 graduate and 15 undergraduate students from India enrolled in 2016, the number of Chinese students is larger.

Certain countries have less than five students enrolled at Fordham yearly. In Fall 2016, three students from countries such as Argentina, Belgium and Kazakhstan were enrolled. Singular students from places such as Bulgaria, Syria and Croatia were also enrolled in 2016.

According to Mur’ray, it still too early to make predictions on what enrollments will look like for the 2018-2019 school year.

Like Mur’ray, Hunt said that the university’s location in New York City as well as the uniqueness of Fordham, contributes to enrollment increase.

“One reason why Fordham has not seen this [nationwide trend of decrease] is that we are Jesuit,” said Hunt. “A Jesuit education holds a great weight in the world and we offer a pretty good one.”

Hunt said Fordham’s faculty and international student service department contribute to the increase.

“We also have very well known faculty and a wonderful international student service department—those really make a difference for our students and that reputation draws more students to us,” said Hunt.