BGSU connects with international students in their home countries

International Dinner 11/23 (12)

International Dinner 11/23 (12)

Taylor McFarland, BG24 Executive Producer

Despite the impact of COVID-19 on enrollment at universities, BGSU has seen an increase in the number of international students enrolling at the university after establishing two recruitment initiatives, according to International Programs and Partnerships.

BGSU has hired in-country recruitment representatives located in Vietnam and India whose job is to recruit international students to enroll in undergraduate programs at BGSU.

“We have an office that is certified by the Ministry of Education and Technology in Vietnam,” Jon Erdogmus said, the international student recruiter and advisor for international programs and partnerships. The office is in Hanoi, the capital city of the country. BGSU has had this office in Vietnam since late 2021.

Though the office in Vietnam is in Hanoi, the BGSU in-country representative also visits other major cities like Ho Chi Minh to recruit students.

BGSU also has a partnership with an in-country representative in India, which is relatively newer, as it was just approved by the Enrollment Management division of BGSU in late 2022. The in-country representative is based in Kolkata; but, like the Vietnam in-country representative, they travel around the country to recruit students at seminars, high school visits, college fairs and other recruiting events.

BGSU currently has in-country representatives only in India and Vietnam with one representative for each country, and Erdogmus said these partnerships have helped BGSU develop relationships with staff at international high schools.

“I have had counselors visit BGSU from different countries and keep in touch with them, so if they have a student that they’re interested in, they also say, ‘Okay, apply to BGSU as well,’ and we help them,” Erdogmus said.

There are currently 337 undergraduate and 440 graduate international students at BGSU this semester.

BGSU’s International Programs and Partnerships has been collaborating with The Ohio International Consortium, or OIC, which represents the 13 public universities in the state. Some of the universities include the University of Cincinnati, Ohio University, Wright State University, Kent State University and the University of Akron.

The OIC offers additional study abroad programs through other public universities in Ohio through an agreement that allows students at public Ohio colleges to study abroad through other public Ohio colleges.

Many Ohio institutions have a presence in different countries with in-country representatives, not just BGSU. Many schools could not get approval for international travel during the pandemic, which led to schools using direct or third-party partnerships to have in-country representatives and collaborating with other universities for recruitment.

During the pandemic, Ohio colleges and universities were “all in the same boat,” when it came to enrollment, said Marcia Salazar-Valentine, the director of international programs and partnerships, so the universities began to work together to recruit internationally.

Furthermore, staff at International Programs and Partnerships found traveling with other Ohio institutions internationally was more cost-effective than traveling alone.

“We’ve been working with a lot of the other public institutions to recruit students in general to Ohio as a unified effort,” Erdogmus said. “Rather than trying to compete with each other, we got together during the [pandemic] and we did a lot of webinars since we were not able to travel.”

Though BGSU representatives collaborate and travel with other universities to international recruitment events, they highlight programs other universities don’t have, like the College of Business and the Aviation program. They also point out the benefits of living in Ohio.

“The cost of living is one of the advantages for international students to come here instead of going to the east or west coast,” Salazar-Valentine said. “The cost of education here is much more reasonable.”

Erdogmus said students who aren’t recruited by International Programs and Partnerships usually learn about BGSU through word of mouth.

“I think we’re getting good traction, especially with our current students,” Erdogmus said. “A lot of our current students also share the information with their families and friends, so that also does a lot of outreach for us.”

Before international students come to the U.S., Maite Hall, BGSU’s coordinator for international student services, communicates with students by mail and prepares them for their transition to the U.S.

“We also have the webinars prior to their arrivals,” Hall said.

The webinars are based on information International Programs and Partnerships wants students to know before they arrive to help students navigate BGSU.

Erdogmus said he traveled to India to meet with BGSU’s in-country representative in January and plans to go back in April. Erdogmus said he also plans to visit four to five cities on the

an upcoming trip where he will meet with high school counselors and principals, as well as attend student fairs and meetings with U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate staff.

“Right now, we have Vietnam and India trips confirmed for March and April, and then we’ll just add as we go through other countries,” Erdogmus said.

As international student enrollment continues to climb, Erdogmus said there may be plans for expansion in the future.

“Right now, we’re mainly in India, but we’re also thinking about maybe expanding a little bit more, maybe Nepal, Bangladesh as the time goes on, but that’s going to be based out of India, and then we’ll try to reach out from there,” Erdogmus said.