More and more international students attend universities in Tennessee.
They take the knowledge and the skills they acquire here and apply them back on their home turf.
Could that eventually put the United States at a competitive disadvantage?
Bill Persinger, spokesman for Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, said he could not answer.
“I won’t comment on the political aspects of it, but it’s important for our students to understand global competitiveness,” Persinger told The Tennessee Star Monday.
“If we have someone who is a first-time college student who is on a Pell grant or otherwise then the only way they are able to learn other cultures is by bringing international students here. I think that is important for all our students and getting them the best education possible.”
Nashville Public Radio reports Vanderbilt and Belmont have more than doubled their international freshman enrollment since 2009. Meanwhile, public universities like Austin Peay and Middle Tennessee State University also have more international students.
This, the website, reported is deliberate.
Persinger told The Star that Austin Peay has too few international students and it’s important to get more.
“The university is a place to challenge your thought process and expose you to things you may not otherwise even learn about and that is part of the idea here — to diversify our students’ educations,” Persinger said.
“A lot of our (student) population can’t afford to travel abroad or travel to other countries to study with a global society like we have today and that is really important. Part of the educational experience for us is to expose them to different cultures.”
MTSU in Murfreesboro, 80 miles south of Austin Peay, recruits students from Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The school hosts students from more than 60 different countries, according to Nashville Public Radio.
Austin Peay, though, mostly has about 100 international students from Asia and Japan. Most of them major in STEM courses.
According to Live Science, STEM incorporates the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics all into one curriculum.
“With a university of our size, and considering we now have a doctoral program, we should be between 500 to 1,000 international students, if you want to compare it to other schools like us,” Persinger said.
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