‘International students will always be welcome here’


Hannah Roberts

Students gather outside the Rhatigan Student Center. Many brought signs showing their disapproval of President Trump’s travel ban.

International students make up about 10 percent of the student population at Wichita State. Many come from India, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka.

Vince Altum, Executive Director of the Office of International Education, said it is too soon to know what impact President Trump’s executive order given on Friday will have on WSU’s international students.  The order suspends immigration from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen for at least 90 days. It also bans all refugees for 120 days and indefinitely for Syrian refugees or until further notice.

Even so, Altum said the university appreciates the cultural diversity international students from more than 100 countries bring to campus.

“They are part of the Shocker family and international students will always be welcome here,” Altum said.

Enrollment data collected by the Office of Planning and Analysis recorded international students admitted to WSU in 2010 was 8.7 percent of the student population, while in 2016 it increased to 10.3 percent. Enrollment was 14,495 of all students in 2015.

“We have international students coming from about 105 countries,” Altum said. “We try to maintain strong enrollments from the countries from which we get a lot of students, while also trying to attract students from new markets as well.”

He said WSU was the first school to admit international students and send them a visa to apply. Other reasons international students chose WSU include the city’s low cost of living, affordable tuition, or having friends or family who have studied at WSU. University representatives attend educational fairs and exhibitions in several countries to meet prospective students.

“We also have an extensive communication flow for undergraduate applicants,” Altum said.

International students face a unique set of challenges while living in the U.S. They have to adjust to living in a different culture, to speak a second language, and to studying in a different educational system. However, Altum said most succeed despite all of the obstacles.

“I’ve had some students come to me about their concerns of whether or not there will be other students from their country at WSU.  There are also some who worry about their safety,” he said. “But whatever their concerns may be, we try to reassure them, and give them the best answer possible.”

Aside from the questions international students have, Altum said one of their popular questions involves WuShock.

“Many international students come from countries that do not recognize the concept of a mascot in their cultures,” said Altum. “So when WuShock is introduced to them, we get many questions like ‘what is a mascot?’, ‘why do American universities need a mascot and what are they used for?’, and ‘what is WuShock supposed to be?’.”