International student enrollment at U.S. colleges and universities had been steadily trending upward over the past decade.
However, it plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic from a high of 1,095,299 in 2019 to 914,095 in 2021, according to Open Doors’ annual international student enrollment report.
Bucking this national trend, the University of Arizona now has the highest number of international students enrolled in the university’s history, with over 5,400 international students enrolled in degree programs on main campus and around the globe, according to the university’s fall 2021 census.
“These numbers reflect a coordinated and holistic approach to global education that was a pillar of the university’s strategic plan long before COVID,” said UArizona Vice President for Global Affairs and Dean of Global Education Brent White.
“This approach involves meeting students wherever they are and providing opportunities to earn a UArizona degree in their home country, at the main campus in Tucson, online or any combination of the three. Our global enrollment was growing before the pandemic and has only accelerated since then.”
Every year, thousands of students from more than 100 countries choose to earn their degrees at the University of Arizona’s main campus in Tucson.
Included in the fall 2021 enrollment numbers are 3,097 total international students attending classes on main campus, an increase of 3.2% over fall 2020. The number of new international undergraduates enrolled on main campus is up 65.9% over fall 2020.
The university’s total international student enrollment also includes 2,073 students enrolled in UArizona programs outside the United States.
Delivering Education ‘Everywhere You Are’
By creating new opportunities and modalities for students to earn a degree, stay on track or begin a new degree program, UArizona has made it possible for students to pursue higher education from wherever they are in the world.
Of UArizona students currently enrolled outside the U.S., 181 are pursuing Global Direct Online degree paths. An option in its second year, these online degree paths make a U.S. degree accessible and affordable to students who cannot or do not wish to travel to Arizona to study in person.
“The online degree options we have created are making a huge difference to students who needed flexibility in these uncertain times,” said Stephanie Adamson, UArizona assistant dean for global admissions and enrollment. “We are making sure those students who need to can pursue their degree from their home country. We are truly living up to our international admissions motto: ‘Everywhere you are.'”
In addition to those students choosing Global Direct Online degree paths, a record high 1,892 international students are currently enrolled in Microcampus Dual Degree Programs – an increase of 400 over last year. In dual degree programs, students can earn dual degrees from UArizona and a partner university. This innovative model allows students to complete a U.S.-accredited degree at a campus convenient to them.
The University of Arizona now has 13 microcampus locations worldwide, with respected partner universities in 11 different countries offering 37 different undergraduate and graduate dual degree combinations.
Students in the dual degree programs in the microcampus network learn from UArizona professors, gain access to UArizona resources, and can spend a semester on the main campus in Tucson as part of their degree program through the Study Arizona experience.
Study Arizona allows students to attend classes on the university’s main campus in Tucson and learn in person from UArizona’s world-class faculty, while having an American college experience.
UArizona senior Sebastian Montoya Huarachi is a dual degree student in the Eller College of Management, enrolled through microcampus partner Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas (UPC) in Lima, Peru.
Huarachi is one of 19 students from UPC spending the fall 2021 semester at UArizona as part of the dual degree program.
“I feel grateful to be a part of this group, learning from Eller’s prestigious faculty, taking part in clubs, and exchanging thoughts and learning new points of view,” Huarachi said. “Through the Study Arizona program, I’ve learned so much about other cultures, met other international students, and learned about American culture and new ways of doing things that I can apply to my major.”
Silvana Lucia Sosaya Moreno, another UPC senior spending the semester at UArizona, is pursuing a dual degree in sustainable architecture. Moreno said the diversity and cultural exchange among students and professors has been a highlight of her experience, with university faculty and friends from all over the U.S and around the world making her feel welcome.
“What I value most about being here,” Moreno said, “is that it has allowed me to do more research than what I am used to, as well as the opportunity to understand another culture and to adapt to a new teaching methodology. I am gaining a broader perspective of what I can do as a professional.”
Moreno said she was drawn to UArizona’s offerings focused on sustainability.