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International students coveted for both dollars and diversity.

PLEASANTVILLE, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey colleges want to import more international students.

A consortium of 27 public and private colleges are hoping to boost the state economy, and their own, by recruiting students from other countries through a new "Study New Jersey" program.

The project was launched at Rutgers University, home to more than 2,700 international students, according to a national report. Locally, Atlantic Cape Community College and Rowan University are participating in the project, which was coordinated with the U.S. Commercial Service, a branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Ana Cristea came to Rowan from Moldova to study piano after meeting music professor Veda Zuponcic at a workshop in Moldova. She talked to other students who had attended Rowan, and studied English intensively for several month's so she could pass the required language test for admission. She earned her bachelor's degree in May, is now working toward her master's degree and is a teaching assistant at the college.

"I was recommended to come, and I got wonderful feedback about the school," she said of Rowan.

Gina Skinner, director of Admissions and Recruitment at Atlantic Cape Community College, said the school does not actively recruit international students, but does have 73 enrolled. She said most tend to have family or some other ties to the area.


The college requires international students to have a local sponsor, and the $10,000 first-year cost must be paid up front. International students pay $374 per credit for the first year, but in their second year can claim resident status and pay the in-county rate of $94 per credit.

Foreign students must get a special F-1 student visa, and are not eligible for government financial aid.

Antonella Bonansea, 23, of Argentina, first came to New Jersey as a nanny because she wanted to learn more about other cultures and live in another country. She worked as a nanny for 2 1/2 years, then her host family sponsored her so she could attend college. She is currently attending Atlantic Cape, studying to take the nursing program entrance exam. She said even though she has studied English since kindergarten, it has been challenging to do college level work in English.

She also works in a lawyer's office, and hopes to continue to get her bachelor's degree in nursing from Rutgers.

"I want to get an American degree because it is globally rewarded," she said. "I can get a job anywhere, but I think I would like to stay here."

"Education is a product," said Joel Reynoso, director of the northern New Jersey Export Assistance Center for the U.S. Commercial Service. "There is added value to the classroom in providing a non-U.S. perspective. Plus the students pay more to attend and contribute to the economy."

He said American colleges are respected overseas, but colleges don't always have the funds to recruit. The consortium allows the 27 colleges to work together. Oregon and Illinois have created similar programs.

The Open Doors 2010 report from the Institute of International Education states that New Jersey ranks 15th in the nation in the number of foreign students attending colleges in the state, with 14,246 students spending an estimated $415 million on tuition, housing and other living and travel expenses. Almost half of these students come from just two countries--India (28 percent) and China (20 percent)--with South Korea, Taiwan and Canada completing the top five countries of origin for international students.

International students, like out-of-state students, can be attractive to public colleges because they pay as much as twice the tuition of in-state students. But public college officials said they are also aware that their first responsibility is to state residents, and those interviewed plan to recruit only a small number of international students.

Paul Shelly, spokesman for the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities, said the nine smaller state colleges educate almost exclusively state residents, and while there are educational and financial reasons to welcome international and out-of-state students, the colleges should be cautious.

"In niche markets, it might make sense," he said. "And it is good to bring another perspective into the classroom. You don't just want all New Jersey students. But what is a good number, especially when the colleges only have so many seats available?"

All Houshmand, provost at Rowan University, said about 2 percent of the school's enrollment is out-of-state and international students. The school would like to increase that number to 5 or 10 percent. He said the college has also expanded enrollment to accommodate more state residents, and he sees a global marketing campaign that can increase Rowan's profile around the world as an advantage to all students.

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Title Annotation:tracking trends
Author:D'Amico, Diane
Publication:Community College Week
Geographic Code:1U2NJ
Date:Dec 13, 2010
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