Supporting International Students

International Students at the University of California, Los Angeles

Carlos Manuel Haro, Ph.D.
Assistant Dean, International Studies and Overseas Programs

In fewer than 80 years, UCLA has propelled itself into the ranks of the nation's top 10 research universities. As a conscious part of the international cultural and economic community known as the Pacific Rim, UCLA has developed a strong commitment to cultural diversity reflecting both the rich make-up of Los Angeles and the myriad countries of the world. UCLA builds every year on an already renowned reputation for education, innovation and community service to draw hundreds of permanent and visiting students from all corners of the globe. With an enrollment topping 34,000 undergraduate and graduate students, UCLA attracts the best and the brightest from around the world by offering one of the widest selections of study areas among major American universities. Students can choose from more than 100 major fields and design their own interdisciplinary majors. This broad range of academic programs both attracts international scholars and draws strength from their vast cultural and ethnic diversity.

The International Student Community
In 1997, there were 10,588 international students and scholars at UCLA. This number was 0.55 percent up from the year before. From 1991 to 1997 there has been a 8.16 percent increase in the number of international scholars and students at UCLA. Among the non-immigrants, there were 1956 registered students, 250 affiliated students, 1703 visiting scholars or faculty and 841 UCLA Extension students. Among the immigrants, there were 5727 registered students and 111 affiliated students. From 1996 to 1997 affiliated non-immigrant students and registered immigrant students experienced 5.66 percent and 4.82 percent decline respectively. All other categories experienced between four and fourteen percent increase (See Table I).

Table I: International Students and Scholars Population Summary
Visa Status/Category 1997 1996 % Change1996-97 1995 1994 1993 1992 1991
Registered Students 1956 1774 10.26% 1648 1668 1736 1764 1860
Affiliated Students 250 265 -5.66% 229 236 212 375 446
Visiting Scholars/Faculty 1703 1634 4.22% 1728 1869 1948 1941 1967
UCLA Extension 841 737 14.11% 740 753 797 782 758
Registered Students 5727 6017 -4.82% 6148 5969 5432 5025 4629
Affiliated Students 111 103 7.77% 111 90 44 56 63
Total 10588 10530 0.55% 10604 10585 10169 9943 9723

Among the registered international students Asia has the largest population represented. There were 3,390 immigrant and 1,281 non-immigrant students from Asia. This was followed by Europe and the Americas (See Table II). The numbers of immigrant students, within the exception of Oceania and Europe, have declined from 1996 to 1997. On the other hand, the numbers of non-immigrant students from all parts of the world have increased.

FALL 1996 AND FALL 1997

Region Non-Immigrant Immigrant
1997 1996 % Change 1997 1996 % Change
Africa 38 29 31.03% 98 101 -2.97%
Americas 227 218 4.13% 864 897 -3.68%
Asia 1281 1164 10.05% 3390 3648 -7.07%
Europe 320 287 11.50% 586 570 2.81%
Middle East 73 67 8.96% 702 722 -2.77%
Oceania 12 9 33.33% 36 30 20.00%
Unclassified 5 0 N/A 51 49 4.08%
Total 1956 1774 10.26% 5727 6017 -4.82%

China was the largest country represented among the non-immigrant international students followed by Taiwan. (See chart I-A) China made up 12.88 percent of the international student population and Taiwan 12.22 percent. The largest represented countries among the immigrant international students were Korea and Vietnam. The Republic of Korea made up of 15.68 percent with 898 students and Vietnam 12.14 percent with 695 students (See Chart I-B).
Chart I-A, Non-Immigrant Students
Country Number %
China (PRC) 252 12.88%
Taiwan 239 12.22%
Korea, Republic of 211 10.79%
Japan 182 9.30%
Hong Kong 160 8.18%
India 91 4.65%
Canada 76 3.89%
United Kingdom 46 2.35%
Indonesia 39 1.99%
France 36 1.84%
Other 624 31.90%
Total 1956 100.00%

Chart I-B, Immigrant Students
Country Number %
Korea, Republic of 898 15.68%
Vietnam 695 12.14%
Taiwan 637 11.12%
Iran 569 9.94%
Mexico 316 5.52%
China (PRC) 257 4.49%
Philippines 250 4.37%
Hong Kong 190 3.32%
Canada 151 2.64%
El Salvador 121 2.11%
Other 1643 28.69%
Total 5727 100.00%

Source: " International Students at the University of California, Los Angeles. Fall Quarter 1997." Published by UCLA Office of International Students and Scholars, 106 Tom Bradley International Hall

Resources for UCLA's Community of International Students
It is clear that UCLA has a large International Student population with a wide range of different backgrounds and needs. The office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) was established 40 years ago to provide specialized services to this community. Services include personal counseling on immigration/visa issues, financial resources and tax matters; academic adjustment; insurance; and release of funds from other countries. OISS professional staff also answer questions concerning personal adjustment, and help students better understand UCLA. OISS acts as a powerful advocate on behalf of international students both individually and as a group within the University and in the face of sometimes extremely daunting governmental agencies.

The OISS contributes to the multicultural character that is so important to UCLA by encouraging students to become involved in student organizations and intercultural education programs. In joint sponsorship with the Dashew International Student Center (DISC) and the International Students Association (ISA), the following types of programs are offered: language exchange; exploring Los Angeles; intercultural discussion groups; and campus-wide activities focusing on cultural diversity and mutual understanding.
In the month of September, OISS, with DISC and the ISA, conducts special orientation programs (ISSOP) in which trained International Advisors (IAs) welcome the approximately 700 new international students arriving in fall quarter. These IAs maintain contact with the international students throughout the year and help the OISS to offer programs, seminars, workshops and conferences on issues of personal interest and academic significance to international and U.S. students.

The OISS has a myriad other activities as well. It promotes training and research on intercultural communication, serves as a source of information to students and scholars about on- and off-campus events and services, sponsors international students groups such as the ISA, provides internships, and publishes the International Students and Scholars Guide. Clearly, the international student community at UCLA not only has access to world-class education and a culturally rich and varied American student population, but it also has an excellent and committed support system that addresses academic, legal, immigration/visa, personal, cultural, social, language and many other issues and questions as well.

UCLA and International Students into the Future

UCLA's long-standing and continued support of its international student community has contributed to making it a leading university in the world. UCLA's international students have many opportunities to study in different academic fields as well as to experience American culture and learn both about the history and culture of Los Angeles and about the United States and Americans more generally. UCLA and the OISS will continue to provide excellent personalized encouragement and support for UCLA's vast and diverse international student community as we move into the 21st century.

UCLA is an urban public and research university, with a College of Letters and Sciences and 11 Professional Schools. Today, at UCLA, there are roughly 1,800 non-immigrant international students, mostly at the graduate level, and 1,500 international scholars. This is out of a total student population of 25,011 undergraduates and 11,879 graduate students, with a faculty totaling 3,167. Since the early 1990s, the number of non-immigrant registered international students has risen by roughly 5% overall. Among immigrant registered international students, there was an increase over the same period of approximately 24% overall. These increases in the numbers of both immigrant and non-immigrant registered international students parallel national trends. Enrollment figures for international students both at UCLA and nationally picked up in 1997 after four years of minimal growth. The record total of 547, 867 international students in the U.S. for the 2000-2001 academic year represents a 6.4% rise in international enrollment and the largest national increase over the last 20 years.

International students from Asia have come to play an increasingly significant role at UCLA, as they have nationally. The numbers of non-immigrant students at UCLA increased from 1996-1997, with Asia having the fourth largest increase after Oceana, Africa, and Europe. On the other hand, overall numbers of non-immigrant and immigrant registered international students from Asia were the highest for all relevant world regions at UCLA in 1997. China, Taiwan, Korea, and Vietnam were the countries with the top numbers of immigrant and non-immigrant international students at UCLA.

The importance of China for UCLA's international student enrollment figures reflects rises in international students from China at the national level. According to the Institute for International Education's most recent Open Doors survey, China sent the most international students to the U.S. for the third year in a row. The figure for international students from China in the U.S. for the academic year 2000-2001 rose by 10%. China, as the top sending country, was followed by India, Japan, and Taiwan, respectively.

Asia was clearly the predominant region of origin for international students in the U.S. during 2000-2001. At the national level, Asian students accounted for roughly 51% of international student enrollment during the same period. Asia, as the top sending region for international students in the U.S., was followed by Europe, Latin and South America, and the Middle East, respectively. At UCLA, Asia also had the largest population of registered international students, followed by Europe and the Americas, respectively.
Despite some recent, post-September 11th, potentially negative developments such as stricter regulations for international student visas and proposals to drastically overhaul the Immigration and Naturalization Service, application rates for foreign students at many American universities were up between 16 and 24 percent in the 2000-2001 academic year. In the Open Doors 2001 survey, educators indicated that international students' interest in study in the U.S. has "remained strong, and is likely to do so in the coming year." Moreover, long-term goals such as the strengthening of "cooperative efforts to address global problems that could one day pose as great a threat as terrorism" could be achieved by making sure these recent increases in the numbers of international students both at UCLA and nationally are not rapidly reversed. The Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS), in conjunction with DIC and ISA, are part of the efforts at UCLA being directed toward making sure that the positive trends in international student enrollment and programs continue for a long time to come.