YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Ohio ranks eighth in the nation when it comes to the number of international students attending public universities.
Youngstown State University is sixth in the state for international growth, but is 11 out of 13 state schools for the number of international students. YSU has about 270 students from foreign lands, ranking only ahead of Shawnee State and Central State.
YSU doubled its international student population in the past seven years, and university officials plan to do it again soon.
Ahmad Alahmad moved here from Kuwait three years ago to attend YSU thanks to the advice of some alums. When he arrived, he could not speak English.
“Actually, my friends, they told me about Youngstown and how great it is in engineering field,” Alahmad said.
He is now thriving and will graduate this year with a degree in industrial engineering. And just like his friends who helped bring him here, he has encouraged other international students to come to YSU.
“I did actually, brought another student, but not from my home. I brought two students from Saudi Arabia,” Alahmad said.
And success stories like his are exactly what is helping YSU grow its international program. There are twice as many international students here today as there were seven years ago, and the program’s director said he would like to see it double again in the next five.
“It is a crowded market. There is a lot of universities competing for those students and we want the best and brightest here. So that is always a big challenge, to get out and tell our story and explain why Youngstown is the best place for them to choose,” said Jef Davis, director for the YSU Center for International Studies and Programs. “We believe we could double that number again. We think that YSU could comfortably support around 500 international students without having to add more classes.”
He said international students like Alahmad choose YSU for the same reasons that U.S. students do, including low tuition prices, good academic programs and a close-knit community.
“It is a smaller university, so you don’t have the crowds and stuff. So most people in Youngstown, you know them and it is easier to know them,” Davis said.
Alahmad is very happy about the plan to bring in more international students.
“It is really good to expand the international students so you have more variety,” he said.