This week we our international education pick of the week focuses attention right in our own backyard – international students and campus internationalization in Florida. According to the Open Doors Report, Florida ranks 7th as far as hosting international students, with a grand total of 32,746, behind California (111,379), New York (88,250), Texas (62,923), Massachusetts (46,486), Illinois (39,132) and Pennsylvania (37,280). The direct economic contribution to the state from these students is closing in on a billion dollars at $945,001,999.
The University of Florida leads the way, with 5,961 international students. Here’s a sampling of a few more:
Florida International University: 3,018
University of Miami: 2,765
University of South Florida: 2,648
University of Central Florida: 1,925
Florida State University: 1726
Miami-Dade College: 1,579
Nova Southeastern University: 1,130
University of Tampa: 813
Broward College: 474
Valencia Community College: 471
This is certainly not a complete list, just a sampling, as there are many more colleges and universities in Florida that host sizable international student populations. Nor is this list likely to be stable – many Florida schools are aggressively trying to grow their international student populations. An article this week in the Orlando Sun-Sentinel looks at the plans at a few Florida schools, which indicates that the number of international students in Florida will continue to surge. According to the article, UCF wants to more than double its number of international students to 5,000; the University of West Florida wants to double or triple its number of internationals; and even UF, with almost 6,000 international students already, is aggressively looking to increase that number.
The forces driving the increased recruiting of international students in Florida echo those around the country. In an era when state funding for higher education has taken big hits, international students are a welcome source of money. In addition, increasing campus internationalization is seen as a tremendous advantage for the school, helping to train future leaders in an interconnected world. And Florida is a desirable location for many international students, offering big city opportunities in Miami, great research facilities in Gainesville and yes, plenty of beach access.
The article explores the critique that international students will take places from Floridians, as many of the schools on the list are public schools. The schools, UF in particular, deny the allegation, saying the spots are unused transfer spots that do not reduce spots available to Floridians. Of course, there’s a host of private schools in the state as well, not subject to such constraints, and the are also aggressively recruiting. In any event, it seems fair to say that in five years, campuses and student bodies throughout Florida will look a lot more international than they do now!