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Fahad Alharthi is the recipient of a scholarship from the Saudi Arabian Cultural Affairs Office, which pays for his education at Tennessee State University. Credit: Delice Smith-Barrow/The Hechinger Report
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - When Fahad Alharthi traveled from Saudi Arabia to Southern California in April 2015, he was only 20 years old and did not know English. But he has a scholarship from the Saudi Arabian Cultural Embassy, to use it to learn English and then attend an American college.
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For 18 months, he lived with American families and friends, studied English at a language school at California State University, Long Beach, and took the International English Language Testing System test. On a scale of 0 to 9, he scored a maximum of 5, but was accepted at three colleges.
Alharthi chose Tennessee State University in Nashville, a historically black university - where his classmates were black Americans, Egyptians, Kurds and Somalis, as well as some Saudis.
In 2008-09, Tennessee State had 77 international students. In fall 2016, the year before Alharthi enrolled, he had 549 - 8 percent of the student body of approx. 7,000. Other historically black colleges and universities are experiencing similar rapid growth in the number of international students — for the same reasons.
In addition to the tuition they often bring—many international students pay full sticker price, often subsidized by their home governments—there are benefits for American HBCU students. Many come from low-income families and cannot afford to study abroad. Having international classmates exposes them to cultures different from their own. When they graduate, they will also join a global workforce, and can benefit from the insights of their global peers.
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"It is important to have different cultures in the university because we cannot send all our students to study abroad, so we find special ways to bring them to the world."
Jewell Winn, senior director of international programs at TSU said, "It's important to have a diverse culture in the university because we can't send all of our students to study abroad, so we get unique ways to bring them to the world," said Jewell Winn, senior director of international programs at TSU.
International student growth also occurs at Morgan State University in Baltimore and Howard University in Washington, D.C. — institutions similar in size to the state of Tennessee — and at some smaller HBCUs, such as Central State University in Ohio.
Among HBCUs with 10 or more international students, as of the 2017-18 academic year, Morgan State had the most, with 945 students; Howard was second with 920; and Tennessee third with 584, according to the International Center for Education. The three institutions are similar in student population and size—at least 70 percent of their students are African-American and about half receive federal Pell Grants (usually given to students with a household income of less than $40,000).
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But that number is changing, as more foreign students bring languages, clothing and culture to predominantly black schools. And while some African American students question whether the culture on their campuses is changing too much, others welcome the opportunity to interact with immigrants.
The 500-acre Tennessee State University in Nashville is home to about 7,000 students, and a growing number — now about 8 percent — come from other countries. Credit: Delice Smith-Barrow/The Hechinger Report
As Tennessee State's Winn points out, "When they leave this campus for an HBCU, they're not going to be working at black Nissan or black Deloitte or anything like that. It's going to be a different workplace. ."
The influx of international students to HBCUs includes a large number from the Middle East, thanks in part to government scholarships. In fact, Saudi Arabia ranks fourth among the top destinations for international students in the United States, according to the Institute for International Education. (China is No. 1, followed by India and South Korea.)
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"Having a fully funded international student, whose tuition is guaranteed by their government, is the best situation for any university trying to attract students," said Yacob Astatke, Morgan State's associate vice president for international affairs. attention of a student who pays tuition abroad." matters, he explained. In many cases, the foreign country also pays room and board for full board.
Between 2014 and 2017, international enrollment at Morgan State University tripled, from approximately 300 to 900 students; this demographic is also growing rapidly at other HBCUs.
However, a foreign student from California may need financial aid from Morgan to cover some of the costs. With every out-of-state student trying to attract attention, Morgan thought carefully about what kind of help he wanted to give them. That's not the case for international students who are guaranteed tuition reimbursement — "a big plus for our institution," he said.
Astatke said Morgan State President David Wilson has focused on increasing the number of international students, and between 2014 and 2017, international enrollment tripled, from about 300 to 900 students — “mostly from Saudi students and Kuwait," he said.
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Recruited through the Saudi Arabian Cultural Grant, Morgan also hosts workshops for Saudi students from colleges throughout the DC-Baltimore area. Many international students study engineering; The university recently increased the number of engineering classes offered during the summer to help international students complete their studies during the scholarship period.
"In the last five years, we've offered more summer classes than in the last 20 years combined," Astatke said.
"Having an international student who is fully funded, whose education is guaranteed by their government, is the best situation for any university trying to attract a student who pays tuition fees abroad,"
In the Saudi culture, there has been an effort to make the citizens more educated, in general, and to get more western education, in particular, said Marybeth Gasman, director of the Rutgers (formerly Penn) Center for Minority Services.
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"When word gets out about an institution, and if students have a good experience, then I think you're going to get more people to join," Gasman said. "This type of community that travels abroad is very few in other countries. And they are very related."
In Tennessee, where many Saudi students receive public scholarships like Alharthi's, the number has grown to the point that in 2017 the Saudi scholarship program stopped sending students to TSU, Winn said, out of fear that living among many other Saudis can distort their English. - diving experience. (However, in April the scholarship program once again allowed students to apply to TSU.)
Gifts and memorabilia from international students and visitors are displayed in the Office of International Affairs at Tennessee State University. Credit: Delice Smith-Barrow/The Hechinger Report
Other historically black colleges are developing resources and staffing to promote international students, which often involves part-time.
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In 2016, the vice chancellor of a two-year college in Nigeria, who is an alumnus of Prairie View A&M University in Texas, asked Prairie View President George Wright to come to Nigeria to speak at his graduation. . Wright used the visit as a recruiting opportunity, bringing in a number of Prairie View principals.
Prairie View has since experienced an increase in its enrollment of Nigerian students, from 47 in fall 2015 to 106 in fall 2017, according to Eveadean Myers, senior director of international programs. The university's total international enrollment increased from 184 to 279 students from fall 2013 to fall 2017.
The university is forming partnerships to continue to increase the number of international students, according to Myers.
In March, Prairie View signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Mines and Energy of Equatorial Guinea, where the ministry will help Prairie View recruit and enroll students from the small West African country.
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Prairie View has about 8,000 students, more than half from low-income families; Most of them are African Americans from Texas. Thanks to international recruitment, "they are exposed to different cultures," said Evelyn McGinty, the university's international student advisor.
Fisk University in Nashville is recruiting in Nigeria, after hiring the head of international affairs in 2017. About 3 percent of the students are from abroad. At New Orleans Southern University, 1 percent of students are from foreign countries now, but the school is working hard to increase that number. In 2018 and 2019, principals and students were recruited in Australia and Israel. Central State University, in Wilberforce, Ohio, established a relationship with the Bahamas Ministry of Education after the football team played in the Bahamas against an HBCU in 2014. "We are always trying to increase our enrollment, like most universities." Maria Potter, program coordinator for the university's Global Education Center said.
In the State of Tennessee, the government started working on international registration in 2011. Today, international students have a campus of about 500 acres of urban areas, with hills almost every time on the way from the campus to the center of the hearing sweet
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