Foreign Enrollment Recovering at Utah Schools After 9/11

Foreign Enrollment Recovering at Utah Schools After 9/11

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Foreign students are gradually returning to Utah schools after the Sept. 11 attacks tightened immigration requirements and reduced enrollments.

Officials say international enrollment at Utah's colleges and universities tops 22,000 and is approaching the pre-2001 levels.

The University of Utah added 60 foreign undergraduates this fall, bringing the total to 1,560 in its first increase since the attacks.

The picture is the same at Salt Lake Community College, which saw its international population recover to 286 this fall, up from 255 in 2003 but still less than 394 before the attacks.

"It's not that people are forgetting about 9/11, but some of the strict regulations that immigration implemented have been now modified to be a little more student-friendly because Congress and others have convinced them that they probably were a little too severe in the beginning," said Bill Barnhart, director of the U.'s International Center.

After 9/11, Barnhart said immigration policies requiring face-to face-interviews for students seeking visas and special scrutiny for Islamic men kept many from attending school in the United States.

Students in certain fields like nuclear engineering had to jump through additional hoops.

"A lot of them just said it's not worth the extra hassle, I'll go to Canada or the United Kingdom," Barnhart said. "There's been a big push overseas to say it's not as hard anymore as you might think to get a student visa."

Bianca Macena, a University of Utah graduate student from Brazil, said many of her friends were afraid to leave the country after 9/11 because they feared they might not be able to return under tighter requirements.

For Macena, the key to obtaining a 2004 visa was letting school administrators handle her application.

"If they don't have any support from the university, it's really difficult. They don't get visas," said Macena, president of the U's International Student Council.

Barnhart said many Utah schools are focusing on recruiting and helping foreign students get in this country. A U. task force is looking at doubling the number of foreign students to 10 percent of the student body.

"That's how you learn about other cultures and become global citizens," he said. "Our big concern is to make sure our graduates are competitive with students around the world."

At Utah Valley State College, international enrollment has recovered to about 400 this year after falling into the low 300s after the Sept. 11 attacks, said Boyd Bauer, director of the International Center at the Orem school.

"I wouldn't say we've turned the corner, but we are now taking significant action in trying to recruit and overcome the visa problems," Bauer said. "Most of the international students that come here have made enormous sacrifices to get here. They really value their education, and it should rub off on our students too."


Information from: Deseret Morning News,

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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