In its 2016-2020 master plan, CUNY has listed the recruitment of international students a top priority in hopes to dramatically increase low numbers of the past.
CUNY’s campuses have long been known to be places of diversity and acceptance of various creeds and cultures. As the numbers check out, though, the system does not attract nearly as many international students as one may expect.
Among the master plan’s various goals, including improving customer service in the bursar and financial aid offices to students and building more dorms, the plan includes a provision to make transferring international credits an easier process for students and an effort to increase CUNY’s visibility.
Following its dismal numbers of international admissions with just 8,391 international students enrolled in all of CUNY’s 18 campuses in 2015, reflecting a 20 percent drop in foreign visa admissions in 2009, administrators are now seeking to raise these numbers in hopes of making CUNY a top-destination for those arriving to the country and seeking new opportunities.
But not all campus faculty is optimistic about this new initiative. Some consider it an act of pandering for more funds that CUNY has been well-known to lack. Murphy Halliburton, associate professor of anthropology at Queens College, is one of these skeptics.
“Queens College is already very international. Many schools across the country, sadly, are chasing after foreign students to make up for states cutting funds to public universities. Foreign students usually pay more because they do not qualify for state tuition, at least at first. What we should do instead is increase the state funding for universities,” Halliburton said.
Some students suggest a similar stance, arguing that this effort to recruit more foreign students is not necessarily a way of increasing CUNY’s already very multi-cultural reputation, but that it is a mere effort to make up for lacking funds.
Brenda X, a senior political science and sociology major at Baruch College, suggested that the initiative is a mere cop-out to garnering funds.
“I think it’s like putting a bandage to the problem– the problem being underfunded schools, adjunct processors not being well paid, and politicians not wanting to invest in education when the numbers clearly show that our education pays off,” X said.
Overall students across campuses are welcoming this new initiative because they suggest that international students bring many new opportunities to learn.
Kosta Podias, a senior education major at QC, said that this initiative is a great way of making CUNY’s goals clear.
“Bringing more foreign students is a good initiative for CUNY because it could possibly bring in more culture, providing wider interests to students,” Podias said.
Halliburton also said that students would feel comfortable at schools like QC, particularly, because CUNY, in general, very multicultural.
“Queens College has so many students who are, or whose parents are, recent immigrants and foreign students would not feel left out and would probably even find a community from their home country at the college,” Halliburton said.
The CUNY master plan for 2016-2020 can be viewed here: https://www2.cuny.edu/about/masterplan/