By Xin Wen
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter
EAST LANSING — There were 7,568 international students enrolled in fall 2015 at Michigan State University. International student enrollment has grown 28.3 percent over the last five years, according to the 2015 Statistical Report of Michigan State University.
Those students have also been broadening Ingham County’s diversity, and its bottom line.
International students and their families contributed a net $308.0 million and supported 4,721 jobs in the Lansing economy in the 2014-2015 school year, according to NAFSA.org.
In Ingham County, 9,691 residents were born in Asia, according to Mooseroots. A Chinese New Year celebration was held by Greater Lansing Chinese Association in the Meridian Mall on Feb 9.
Christin O’Brien is living in the Lansing area. She said what she loves about the community is the diversity and richer culture international students bring.
“I work down here, but I lived in the East Lansing area,” O’Brien said. “What I loved about having more diversity and a richer culture, mixed people. You get more restaurants; you have more events. For me, it’s more diversity in the community.”
O’Brien said she cannot speak to the motivation of the MSU, but she said more international students means more connections to the world and would offer the priority to university.
“I cannot speak to that. I assume they bring students from another country because they want diversity; they want different relationships with different countries … especially when you get to graduate or Ph.D. level,” O’Brien said. “Students are going off doing international work and having those connections. I think to elevate the university, in terms of the research they are doing and thoughts they have in the world, so I think it would be a big priority to them.”
Lou Anna Simon, the president of MSU, said the increasing international students means more diversity rather than solving the budget problem. She wants to give more opportunity to those who want to take higher education opportunities here.
“We never saw the growth of the international student as a budget-solving issue,” Simon said. “It is really to make the campus more international for the undergrad student,” she said. “There is Chinese population mostly in graduate programs. We feel very strongly that as China is changing, the opportunity for Chinese youth is changing. We want to be part of that, so the number grew a little bit more rapidly than at the beginning than we planned.”
Some students assume MSU needs more international students to solve its economic problems.
International freshmen at MSU need to pay $37,912 for 15 credits per semester, according to the Office of Admissions website of MSU. Last year students’ tuition at the university had increased four percent.
Zhaoyang, Pan, an international student at MSU, said he assumes one of the reasons why university accepts so many international students is to solve the economic problem.
“I don’t know what economic situation MSU is facing, but I think maybe to them, more international students equals more money,” Pan said.