IU’s international student population dropped from around 5,500 students in fall 2019 to about 4,700 students enrolled this fall due to the complications from the COVID-19 pandemic.
John Wilkerson, associate vice president for IU's Office of International Services, said many factors, including difficulty securing a visa, trouble traveling internationally and the hesitation to go abroad, resulted in the drop in the number of international students.
The state is ranked No. 10 in the nation for the number of international students attending its universities, according to the 2019-20 academic year IIE Open Doors.
“Many of the students who were admitted last year deferred their enrollment a year or decided to start their degree programs online with the intention of being on campus this fall,” Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson also said international students help the campus remain a global university. Part of that, he said, is guaranteeing the school has a global population on campus.
Being remote for a year was a difficult transition for most international students, so the International Services office along with other international student organizations have planned online events to keep students’ spirits high, Mai-Lin Poon, associate director of international student life, said.
“We shifted the majority of our programs to virtual ones like our Noon Concerts and posted them online for people to watch,'' Poon said.
The office plans to do a mixture of both virtual and in-person events this semester since some students might not feel comfortable being in large crowds, Poon said.
This way students can get adjusted to being back in person after spending the majority of the past year stuck in their homes, Poon said.
The office organized in-person arrival to campus events for their students and turnouts were high, Katie Goodroad, coordinator for international orientation and outreach, said.
“Students were really excited to come out and meet people,” Goodroad said.
Goodroad said international students bring an essential unique presence to campus, so the university is excited to welcome these students back with a celebration.