This fall, LCC boosted its enrollment of international students by 36 from last year, bringing the total to 321, a record for the institution and an increase of 45 percent since 2010.
At a time when enrollment is declining, these students are one segment of the student body that is growing. They are now about three percent of enrolled students, and the rise is set to continue. The college aims for a student population that is 10 percent international by 2020, according to Jennifer Falzerano, director of LCC’s International Programs.
International students at Lane now come from 43 countries. Saudi Arabia, China and South Korea send the most, according to records from the college’s International Programs. About half enroll in credit classes. The other half enroll in Lane’s English as a Second Language program.
The rise in global wealth, especially in China, and the esteemed reputation of American schools abroad, has driven the increase of international students in the U.S. says Falzerano.
Though international students usually prefer the East and West Coasts, Oregon is not yet well-known. “Sometimes our students have to get to know Oregon,” Falzerano said. They know of San Francisco and Seattle, she stated, but the state in between has yet to become much of an international destination.
Compared to other schools in the U.S., Lane offers a quality education that is affordable, according to Falzerano. “We have a really good ESL (English as a Second Language) program,” Falzerano said. “Our program costs about one-third of what it costs to go to University of Oregon. A lot of international students will come here for that reason.”
Falzerano says she thinks many students learn about Lane by word of mouth. They start at the University of Oregon and then discover that LCC is much cheaper. Most international students at Lane plan to go on to another college or university to earn a four-year degree.
Hai Nguyen, from Hanoi, Vietnam, is in the Lane ESL program and his classmates come from countries across the world, including Japan, Venezuela, and China. Like many Lane students, Nguyen has just graduated high school and is attending college to earn an associate’s degree. He said he plans to get a bachelor’s degree in environmental science so he can help to solve his country’s environmental problems.
Cesare Bigolin, a student from Italy, is taking credit classes. Bigolin completed his last year of high school at South Eugene before coming to Lane to study for his associate’s degree as a pre-med student. “My mom always asked for English native speaker babysitters,” Bigolin said concerning how he first learned English. “It has been a lot of help for me,” he said, though he admitted the first couple of months in the U.S. were difficult because he was accustomed to British slang.
The increase in international students is consistent with trends across the United States. An estimated 886,000 international students were studying in the country last year, an eight percent increase from the year before and an all-time high according to the Institute for International Education.
In Oregon, LCC ranks fifth out of all colleges and universities for international enrollment. University of Oregon has the highest number at 4,083, according to data compiled by the Intstitute for International Education. The University of Oregon is followed by Oregon State University, Portland State University, Portland Community College and then Lane.