Foreign enrollment up

INDIANAPOLIS -- The number of foreign students in Indiana colleges increased in the first full academic year after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to a new report.

Nationwide, international enrollment rose just 0.6 percent, to 586,323, the smallest increase since 1995.

That follows a five-year average increase of 5 percent. College officials attribute the slowdown to new security measures and stricter visa requirements that followed the attacks.

Indiana ranked 11th in international enrollment in the survey of 2,700 universities, up from 12th the previous year.

Officials at the state's colleges, anticipating a potential drop in foreign enrollment because of tighter security requirements, encouraged foreign students to begin the visa process early.

"There are more and more hurdles between the time a student decides he or she would like to study here and actually sitting down in the classroom," said Lynn Schoch, senior associate director for international services at IU.

"But students are still willing to jump them," she said.

Location may also have been a factor, said Cyrus Reed, Ball State's assistant provost for international education.

"The advantage Indiana colleges have is that we're in the Midwest," he said. "We're perceived as being a very safe place."

Nationwide, some colleges saw declines in the number of new international students _ especially those from Muslim countries.

At Purdue, 232 fewer new foreign students enrolled this year over 2002-03, according to Michael Brzezinski, director of International Students and Scholars.

Brzezinski attributed the drop to the Iraq war, the visa application process and increased competition for graduate assistantships from U.S. students.