Ohio Colleges Recruit More Out of State

July 15, 2011 | Dayton Daily News |  Link to article

Ohio colleges and universities are increasingly targeting out-of-state and international students for recruitment in response to a projected 9.3 percent decline in homegrown high school graduates during the next decade.

In addition to helping keep enrollment numbers up, non-native students often bring higher out-of-state tuition dollars, diversity and international prestige to campus.

This fall, one in 10 students on the University of Dayton campus will come from outside the country - a more than 200 percent increase from a decade ago.

Miami University has seen a similar increase while both Wright State and Ohio State universities have seen the number of international and out-of-state students grow by double-digit percentages in the last decade.

"Not only do our students need to go out to the world, the world needs to come to our students," said Sundar Kumarasamy, UD vice president for enrollment management. "Education will become the best product we can export to the world."

Xue Tao, a graduate student at UD from China, agrees that a U.S. college degree is highly sought after. "America has the best higher education system in the world," Tao said. "Studying abroad was my dream."

David Creamer, finance director for Miami, said Ohio students also benefit from being on campus with students such as Tao. "They get an opportunity to interact with students from around the globe," Creamer said. "It is a tremendous benefit for Ohio residents."

While schools continue to broaden their recruiting efforts, they are trying not to displace seats for local students. "I don't know any of our institutions that are trying to displace Ohio residents," Creamer said.

Nevertheless, a population shift from the Northeast and Midwest to the South and Southeast will drain an estimated 12,475 high school graduates from Ohio in the next decade, according to an analysis of census data by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

Closing that gap by recruiting out-of-state and international students can help diversify campus and help buoy a school's finances with out-of-state tuition dollars in times of declining state funding. But Vickie Choitz, who analyzed the population data for the Center for Law and Social Policy, worries schools may overlook another important type of student - adults ages 25 and older.

One of the fastest-growing populations on college campuses nationwide, older students now account for more than a third of those enrolled in colleges and universities. Yet, financial aid and other support for this group is lagging.

"We are not seeing policymakers keep up with the changing population," Choitz said. "We feel like they are headed in the opposite direction."

Historically, Ohio has tried to address this concern by developing a number of grant, scholarship and other programs aimed at keeping students in the state for college and attracting new students from other states and countries, said Kim Norris, spokeswoman for the Ohio Board of Regents. One of the newest, the Forever Buckeye program, was included in the recent state budget bill and promises in-state tuition to any student who graduated from an Ohio high school and left the state.

"This is a way to attract a whole new stream of students and encourage them to come back," Norris said. "I think everyone, across the board, agrees we need more students to come to Ohio and we need the students who are here to complete their degrees."

Local institutions such as Wright State and Central State universities, which have a mission of providing affordable access to college, are also developing programs to recruit more aggressively out-of-state. Central State, already a nationally known historically black university, is looking to develop a program similar to one in place at Wright State that partners with colleges in China to attract more international students.

"It is a mixed bag for us. Our students will continue to come from in-state and out-of-state," said Phyllis Jefers-Coly, CSU dean of enrollment management. "They come here because this is a place that feels good for them."

Meanwhile OSU, one of the nation's largest public universities, plans to grow international, out-of-state and older in-state students modestly in the coming decade, according to M. Dolan Evanovich, OSU vice president for enrollment planning.

"We are reaching out across the country and the world to bring a ‘brain gain' of high achieving students to Ohio State," Evanovich said.

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