Story by Max Lennardt
“The University of Utah is a well known institution within the academic world. We are the only Research 1 University in the state of Utah. The University of Utah is also ranked among the top 25 public U.S. Research Universities and No. 82 in the world for academics,” said Moana Hansen, a graduate advisor in the mechanical engineering department, on the topic why so many international students choose the University of Utah.
There is a total of 2,097 international students from 91 different countries at the University of Utah. Most of them come from China, Korea, and India.
“There is an emerging middle class in these Asian countries, but not enough good institutions for the need for good education. Especially in Korea, it is prestige to have a degree from the United States,” said Sabine Klahr, the director of the international center.
According to a 2010 academic ranking of world universities in China, the University of Utah is ranked No. 47 in the U.S. and No. 82 in the world.
“The rankings definitely speak volumes, and these are aspects that prospective international applicants consider when selecting a University. International students are also attracted to the low cost of attendance compared to other universities, which can provide for a better quality of life. Quality of life can be attributed to the weather, affordable housing, transportation, outdoor recreation, and many other factors,” said Hansen.
The majority of the international students study business, science or mechanical engineering. Mechanical engineering is especially popular since the University of Utah is ranked No. 67 in the nation according to a 2011 U.S. News and World Report, which is highly attractive for students from all over the world.
International students are interested in specific research areas that the Department of Mechanical Engineering has to offer such as: Robotics and controls, thermal fluids and energy systems, design, ergonomics and manufacturing systems and solid mechanics.
”International students are also aware of our faculty members, who carry a strong reputation within the academic community for their innovation and contributions to research. Overall, our faculty, research and funding really set us apart from other institutions,” said Hansen.
According to Klahr, all the international students contribute to global development, diversity and internationalize the campus. “International students are really important for diversity reasons. I believe the U.S needs to be more connected. Other countries are more open, and the U.S. needs to be more diverse and is still to isolated,” said Klahr.
Klahr grew up in Germany and lived all over the United States before she moved took the position as the international director at the University of Utah.
“All students can learn from another. American students have the chance to learn about different cultures, and the international students have the opportunity to experience the American way of live,” added Klahr.
There are 10 international clubs on campus like the Chinese, Japanese, African or Muslim student association, and the cross culture club, where Americans and international students meet and can learn from each other.
Most of the international students are degree-seeking students. “The majority of students are not exchange students. Most come for a degree and are with us for the long haul,” said Julie Scott, the office manager in the international office. A data sheet, presented from the international office showed that there are around 1,000 master or PhD seeking international students and around 1,300 undergrads.
”Eighty percent of the international applicants were admitted to the PhD program while 20 percent were admitted to the master’s program”, said Hansen. Some International students even decide to stay and work in the U.S. for a 1-year period in their field of study. “Those in a STEM major (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) can qualify for an additional 17 months of employment. If the employers love these employees, they can hire them on an H-1B visa, and some can eventually qualify for a Green Card,” said Scott.