The Student News Site of University of Nebraska at Kearney

The Antelope

The Antelope

The Antelope

International enrollment declines amid pandemic

File Photo by Kosuke Yoshii Through the pandemic, UNK is expanding recruitment to encourage international enrollment.

International student enrollment  dropped significantly last fall as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The student demographic is a major factor in diversity, cultural atmosphere, and overall experience for UNK’s campus life. 

Administration believes the drop is only temporary.    

 “The decrease in international students is difficult for UNK, but we’re gaining confidence that the recruitment climate is going to bounce back pretty quickly once it’s safer to travel,” said Kelly Bartling, vice chancellor for enrollment management and marketing.

With a year of illness, measures taken by domestic and foreign governments, business shutdowns, toilet paper shortage and a general fear of stepping out of the house, enrollment drops were expected.  

“From fall 2019 to 2020, we’ve had a 26% drop overall in international student enrollment,” said Timothy Burkink, assistant vice chancellor and director of international education.

Junior multimedia major Yejin Kang, returned to her home country of South Korea during the outbreak. Before going home, she made friends from China who decided to return home as well. Kang was surprised to learn that they were unable to re-enter the U.S. due to China’s travel regulations.

“I was afraid to go home because no one could assure me that I would be able to come back,“ Kang said.

Moving forward, health and safety will continue to be among the highest concerns for families sending their kids to college. This puts UNK in a good place, as a school in a rural city that promotes safety and a strong sense of community.   

Kang was able to return for the 20-21 school year, though her pre-travel experience was different this time around.

“My interviewer was much stricter, but I was able to pass because UNK opened and I took in-person classes,” Kang said.

Kang made a difficult decision in returning to the Kearney to continue her education. If all continues well, she will be earning her degree by the end of the Fall 2021 semester.  

The pandemic has proven that nothing can be predicted for certain, but Burkink is optimistic about UNK’s position to make a strong recovery. 

“The decline has generated some new opportunities and we’re taking a more aggressive move toward recruitment,” Burking said.

UNK has been very successful attracting students from Asian nations such as Japan, China and South Korea. The pandemic has demanded change: through this, UNK has taken the opportunity to expand recruitment to different parts of the world. Current efforts will add future international students from Central and South American nations such as Mexico and Brazil.  

“At the moment we have about 75 new admits for fall 2021, plus the ones returning from this semester and we expect that number to continue to increase,” said Burkink.  

As UNK recruiters seek to create a diverse experience, next year’s international yield may improve.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Antelope

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Nebraska at Kearney . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Antelope

Comments (0)

All The Antelope Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *