ECU named top university for international students

East Carolina University has been named a top university for international students in an inaugural list released on May 30.

ECU is one of 181 public and private national universities offering resources to help international students adapt to and graduate from U.S.-based schools, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Jon Rezek, executive director of global affairs and professor of economics at ECU, said there are several reasons why international students choose ECU.

“Most important is our wide range of degree options,” Rezek said. “We have numerous options for students – everything from engineering to business to health care to the arts, education and various STEM fields. We are really in tune with the careers international students want.”

As of last fall, 246 international students were enrolled at ECU. The top academic areas of study are business and computer science. The majority of international students at ECU are from China, India and Saudi Arabia.

“Greenville is really a perfect size city for students coming from abroad,” Rezek said. “It has all the conveniences of a large town, but is small enough that students feel safe and welcome. It’s well situated between the Triangle and the coast.”

ECU also offers specialized programs such as the ECU Language Academy, which helps prepare non-English speakers for the university environment, and First Friends, which introduces international students to domestic students and ways to get involved on campus, Rezek said.

When the U.S. News & World Report list was announced, Chancellor Cecil Staton was attending the annual meeting for NAFSA, the world’s largest and most comprehensive nonprofit association of professionals dedicated to international education, representing 3,500-plus institutions in more than 150 countries. Staton was appointed to the NAFSA: Association of International Board of Directors in December.

“Whether it’s our students studying abroad or international students coming to ECU’s campus, they will work and live in a global, knowledge-based economy,” Staton said. “Employers desire a workforce that is globally aware, and we continue to make that a priority for ECU.”

This fall, a new weekly coffee series will be held to help acclimate international students to ECU and Greenville. The global affairs office is planning a joint program with the career center to help students develop skills needed for internships in the U.S. and for employment when they return home. And the office is working to cultivate donors to start a scholarship to be awarded to two international students each year, Rezek said.

International applications and admissions to ECU are up over last year, he said, in part due to new recruiting staff and a comprehensive strategic plan for recruiting international students. “Our trends are very positive relative to the U.S. as a whole,” Rezek said.

To compile the list, U.S. News began with institutions that offer a range of undergraduate majors, master’s and doctoral programs in its annual Best Colleges rankings and chose those that best support international students both in and outside the classroom.

Graduation and retention rates, social and cultural support, such as the availability of international student organizations, English as a Second Language programs, and grant aid were among the indicators analyzed. U.S. News developed the methodology with input from U.S. News Global Education, a company that connects international students with universities in the U.S.

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