International students, including Gustavo Faria (second from left) and Diogo Placer (right) take a selfie photo with Tommie the Mascot before the March Through the Arches September 8, 2015. The march is an annual ceremony where incoming freshmen are welcomed to campus.

International Students' Ranking at St. Thomas Rises to Fourth in Minnesota

The Institute of International Education’s Open Doors Report 2015 recently released its annual report on international enrollment and U.S. students who study abroad during college.

International student enrollment again sees 10 percent increase

Open Doors Report 2015 reports recent (2014-15) results for rankings of international students studying in the United States. With 14,438 international students studying in Minnesota in the 2014-15 academic year, Minnesota again ranked 19th in the nation for its total number of foreign students. This indicates a 4.9 percent increase over the previous academic year.

Nationwide, the international student rate (across all types of institutions) also increased, 10 percent nationally, with 974,926 foreign students studying in the United States, up from 886,052.

St. Thomas rises to fourth in Minnesota for international student enrollment

Although St. Thomas does not rank on Open Doors’ national lists for international student enrollment, it now ranks fourth in Minnesota and was the top private institution, based on the number of international students, with 544 students in 2014-15.  This is up from last year where St. Thomas ranked fifth, below Minnesota State University – Moorhead. The University of Minnesota ranked first in the state (6,984), followed by St. Cloud State University (1,375) and Minnesota State University – Mankato (1,228).

The total number of international students at St. Thomas has been increasing steadily (353 in fall 2010; 383 in fall 2011; 448 in fall 2012; 486 in fall 2013; 544 in fall 2014; and 612 in fall 2015). This fall 2015 figure factors an additional 76 students who are participating in the Optional Practical Training program, which allows students to stay in the United States for employment after graduation.

International Student Services at St. Thomas reports a significant increase in the graduate international student population over the past four academic years: In fall 2011, 209 students enrolled; in fall 2012, 219 students enrolled; in fall 2013, the figure jumped to 243; in fall 2014, 284 students enrolled; and now in fall 2015, the figure increased again to 338.

Lori Friedman, director of International Student Services at St. Thomas, said, “St. Thomas has also seen an increase in Saudi Arabia, China and India, similar to the trends that are occurring nationally.” The top countries of origin for all international students at St. Thomas in the fall 2015 are, in order: Saudi Arabia (140), China (94), India (76), Uganda (24) and Nepal (22).

Study abroad ranking drops slightly, participation up

Open Doors 2015 report showed that St. Thomas’ undergraduate study abroad participation saw a slight decline but remains among the leading U.S. institutions for undergraduate students who study abroad. The report analyzes study abroad data from the previous academic year (2013-14).

In 2013-14, St. Thomas held steady with 721 students participating in study abroad (up 8 students from 2012-13), putting St. Thomas’ participation rate at 52.8 percent. Nationally, this places St. Thomas 13th among doctoral institutions. The ranking is based on the number of undergraduate students who participated in study abroad programs (721 this year) in relation to the number of undergraduate degrees conferred (1,365), an increase of 111 from the previous year.

These rankings mark the 12th year of statistics in which St. Thomas has been ranked as a “doctoral/research” institution, a category that typically includes much larger schools. The top five schools in the category were, in order: Pepperdine University, University of San Diego, Northeastern University, University of Denver and New York University.

Sarah E. Spencer, director of the Office of Study Abroad, said, "We are very proud of St. Thomas' national ranking and grateful for the broad involvement and support from faculty, staff, students and partners – it is truly a 'one university' program. Student participation is also very strong for January and spring semester, substantially expanding our global engagement and learning opportunities."

The state of Minnesota also saw a modest increase in study abroad participation, sending 9,353 outside the United States in 2013-14. In 2012-13, the United States sent 9,022 students abroad. Nationally, study abroad participation was up 5 percent with 304,467 American students studying internationally in 2013-14.