The Baker Orange

Baker looks to recruit Saudi Arabian students

Story by Katie Thurbon

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Baldwin City might be smack in the middle of the United States, but that doesn’t mean Baker University students cannot be exposed to different cultures.

By the fall of 2014, BU may see new students on campus in the form of Saudi Arabian citizens.

“The Saudi Arabian king sponsors a heavily funded scholarship program for Saudi students studying in the United States,” Brian Posler, executive vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said.

In June, Posler and Kevin Kropf, senior director of admissions, visited the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission near Washington, D.C. The goal of the meeting was for Baker to be put on the approved list of colleges where the mission would send Saudi students.

While it normally looks for universities that have intensive English programs, Baker could still be a viable choice for students who have either completed an English program at another institution or already have sufficient English skills to begin an undergraduate degree.

“For them the majors that are most important are business and engineering,” Posler said. “So because Baker is strong in both business and engineering, we thought we’d be a good fit for them and their program.”

Posler said the trip was a success in that Baker was put on the approved list and the mission has pledged to start looking for Saudi students that would be a good fit for Baker.

Kropf said this type of the recruitment, focusing on small groups of students, is exactly what Baker needs.

“To hit our long-term enrollment goals, initiatives need to be in the small five to 10 groups,” Kropf said, “whether that’s in a different country or a different county.”

Saudi Arabia is a feasible place to recruit students because its government is so financially supportive to students studying in the United States.

Martha Harris, assistant dean for academic affairs, has also been looking into getting students from Paraguay.

Harris said Paraguay and Kansas already have an exchange agreement in place that allows Paraguayan students in-state tuition to public universities.

“It’s definitely something that we’re looking to do, but it’s a little bit different creature for us because we don’t have any kind of in-state tuition,” Harris said. “But if we can kind of get our foot in the door there might be some places with the resources to help their students, even if it’s not monetarily but just to allow them to leave and to study here.”

Harris said she has also identified a school in Mexico that would be a good candidate for an exchange program with Baker, and students could arrive as early as next year.

“There’s no better way to understand what it means to be an American than to be outside and look in for a while and to understand how we are perceived in other parts of the world,” Harris said. “But because not everyone gets to travel or study abroad, if we can bring in folks that provide that opportunity to look inside someone else’s world, I think that’s really important.”

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