Education and Nonprofits

West Michigan colleges open doors for international students

November 26, 2015
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WMU Grand Rapids’ downtown location is one of the Kalamazoo-based school’s eight regional locations across the state. Photo via

A report says there are thousands of international students on West Michigan college campuses — contributing to a top-10 ranking for the state — and several colleges' study-abroad programs are among the nation's most active.

The 2015 “Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange” by the Institute of International Education, or IIE, highlights that 13 institutions in the region had a range of 11 to 1,967 international students enrolled during the 2014-2015 academic year and ranks three West Michigan colleges among the top U.S. institutions with study-abroad participants.

International students

The report breaks down the international student enrollment at a number of institutions: Western Michigan University, 1,967; Calvin College, 467; Ferris State University, 458; Grand Valley State University, 394; Kalamazoo College, 141; Calvin Theological Seminary, 118; Hope College, 87; Lake Michigan College, 71; Kalamazoo Valley Community College, 49; Grand Rapids Community College, 43; Aquinas College, 20; Kuyper College, 16; and Kellogg Community College, 11.

Michigan ranks No. 9 for the number of foreign students, with more than 32,000 international college students studying in the state.

The group is estimated to have a nearly $1.03-billion impact through expenditures, according to the report.

Studying abroad

Calvin College ranks No. 2 in the nation among baccalaureate institutions for the number of students, 602, who studied abroad during the 2013-2014 academic year, while Hope College ranks No. 36.

Don DeGraaf, director of off-campus programs at Calvin College, said the college’s commitment to students learning abroad is rooted in its mission.

“Experiencing other cultures helps us build a connection with places all over the world, with our neighbors near and far,” DeGraaf said.

GVSU ranks No. 11 among master’s degree-granting institutions for the number of study-abroad participants, 753, during 2013-2014. GVSU ranks No. 3 in the state behind the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

The number of U.S. students studying abroad who were enrolled in Michigan-based institutions during 2013-2014 is more than 10,000.


The “Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange” is published by IIE, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural affairs.

This year’s report indicates the number of international students enrolled in higher education grew by 10 percent to more than 974,900 students during 2014-2015.

U.S. students participating in study-abroad programs also increased by 5 percent for the 2013-2014 academic year to more than 304,000.

While studying abroad has more than tripled in the past 20 years and the number is at a record high, IEE says 10 percent of all undergraduate students have an international experience by the time they graduate.  

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