International student enrollment declines at UW-La Crosse

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- According to a UW Systems report, in 2012-13 there were 320 international students enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

This past fall though, that number has been more than cut in half, to 153 students.

"The vast majority of international students want to go to a metropolitan city. La Crosse, for all the wonderfulness we have, is not necessarily what the ideal image is for a lot of international students," said UWL International Admissions Counselor Kristin Lettner.

UWL international admissions counselors say the drop is a result of numerous factors, like Brazil and Saudi Arabia being unable to fund scholarships anymore that brought students to La Crosse.

While the number of international students enrolled at UWL has decreased over the past six years, the total number has actually increased throughout the entire UW System.

The number of international students in the system has increased by over 1,000 since 2012, with the majority of the increase coming from UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee.

Still, Lettner says the admissions office is making a more concentrated effort to bring those international numbers at UWL back up.

"For about four or five years we've had kind of ad hoc international student recruitment from the various departments on campus. But as of two years ago, we hired two international admissions counselors in the admissions office specifically for outreach and recruitment of international students," said Lettner.

Lettner says those counselors spend about three months traveling internationally a year.

Staff with the UWL International Education and Engagement say that the international students they talk to on campus have positive experiences.

They hope that over time more international students come to UWL.

As for the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, they also have seen a drop in international students going from 272 in 2012 to 226 in 2017-18.

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