SLU unprepared for rises in international students

The enrollment of international students has been steadily increasing over the past couple of years, and thus far SLU has had difficulty keeping up with the changing demographic.

There are several issues that have become problematic for both students and faculty. With all the new recruitment of international students, combined with a relaxation of English language testing requirements, there are now a large number of students who arrive at SLU and realize their English capabilities are not formidable enough to handle a regular course load.
This miscommunication is problematic; incoming students arrive believing they can start in their medical or business programs and wind up being set back a few years because they need to take one or two years of English as a Second Language classes.

Unfortunately, SLU can’t provide all the necessary ESL courses. They have had to send some of the students in need of the most help to the University of Missouri-St. Louis, which has more resources for those in need of a rudimentary English education.
SLU should have prepared for the increase in international students needing ESL courses by investing in their own program.

SLU also lacks in faculty that speak Chinese: There is only one person in the International Services office and one person in the ESL program who speaks it, and in those cases it is only Mandarin. The Residential Hall Association has a few more, mostly student volunteers.

Although students haven’t yet had any major tragedies because of language barriers, it would be wise for SLU to begin to employ more Chinese language-speaking faculty, especially in the Health Services department, where communication is essential.

Another issue that has arisen has to do with scholarships: in order for students to qualify for financial aid, many scholarship institutions require ACT or SAT scores. These tests are not easily offered abroad, and thus international students miss out on reward packages.

That is not to say that SLU does not do some things right. There have been several staff training sessions on how to handle issues that arise due to cultural differences, and new food places have appeared on campus to provide for different dietary customs.

However, there are definite improvements that should be made if SLU intends on accepting more and more international students. It is irresponsible for a top Jesuit University to allow enrollment of international students to surge, without doing enough in the way of increasing their own resources to accommodate them.