International student graduate enrollment increases at PNW

International students make up nearly 29% of advanced degree candidates this spring at PNW.

While graduate enrollment has declined since the 2017-18 school year, the number of international students taking graduate classes has grown in the last three years.  Enrollment of international graduate students increased by nearly 57% since last spring.

“We have lost some graduate enrollment over the past few years,” said Joy Colwell, director of Graduate Studies. “A lot of it was attributable to a loss of international students during the pandemic because a lot of them didn’t travel … but the international students are popping back up again to somewhere closer to pre-pandemic numbers.”

The Purdue Northwest Fact Book reports there are 742 graduate students this spring – including 137 online students and 607 core students.  This represents a nearly 24% decline in graduate enrollment, from 971 advanced students, in the spring of 2018.

The bright spot in the statistics is that more international students are finding their way to PNW – 215 of them this spring.

Olukunle Akanbi, is in his last semester getting his masters degree in Business Administration. Formerly employed by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer as a sales and marketing representative in Nigeria, he believes the value of the Purdue degree will help future endeavors. 

“As an MBA graduate … I’m well equipped to go to the marketplace, to talk about what’s really happening,” Akanbi said. “I think with the accreditation and everything [the courses offered], it gives you a very good edge over others when you’re looking for a job. Right now I’m an MBA student, but I’m qualified to do some things apart from managing businesses.” 

Vimal Patel, a graduate student in Industrial Engineering and Technology who came here from India, admits the program helps with industry understanding.

“Back at home, I’ve learned theory my entire life,” he said. “I was never given the chance to apply it hands-on, [with] real critical thinking. …[The PNW program] consists of hands-on application and day-to-day knowledge of how the industry works.” 

Colwell acknowledges the boost in international numbers but notes that PNW has also experienced a rise in out-of-state graduate students, from 138 in spring 2018 to 152 this semester. 

“We do see probably a few more non-resident domestic students than others might see, just because of where we’re located [near the state line],” she said. “Most of our outreach efforts are just for the area. We do something slightly different across the state line, but most of it is just for our region.”