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Notre Dame targets international students

Teresa Fralish | Saturday, August 21, 2004

As freshmen from all 50 states pack up their boxes and make the trip to South Bend this weekend, they are joined by a similar group of freshmen following much the same routine. But in addition to leaving behind friends and family, these freshmen will change countries and cultures as well. There are 76 international students, who compose 3.6 percent of this year’s freshmen class. As part of its goal to create a more culturally diverse student body, the University has placed special emphasis on recruiting and accepting higher numbers of international students. “We’re doing extensive travel internationally. We’ve raised the awareness of Notre Dame,” said Dan Saracino, director of undergraduate admissions. While the percentage of these students in freshmen classes has doubled overall since 2000, it has hovered around 4 percent for the past three years. Ultimately, the University hopes to see that number rise to 5 percent. These increases come as a result of financial aid for international students and intensive recruiting efforts in Europe, Asia and Latin America Saracino said. And following the trend of their American peers, these students have shown consistent academic improvement. At most universities, international students must find their own funding. But in fall 2002, Notre Dame first began offering financial aid to international applicants in hopes that it could draw more students from developing countries to the University. Specifically, the University targeted Latin American countries because of their socioeconomic standing and predominantly Catholic culture. “Roughly half of the financial assistance goes to that area,” Saracino said. Though proud of the strides made toward increased international enrollment, Saracino said limits for financial aid and competing pressures on University money would likely keep the international student percentage at around 4 percent. “We could be at 6 [or] 7 percent for international students if we had enough financial aid. You can’t issue a visa to an international student unless they have enough resources,” Saracino said. Instead, he said the University hopes it can motivate international alumni to contribute resources for incoming freshmen – and provide new generations of students with the same Notre Dame experience they once had.