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International students return to APSU this fall

APSU international students visiting Nashville

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – In the years leading up to 2020, Austin Peay State University was becoming a recognizable name around the world. Between 2015 and 2019, the University saw a major increase in international student enrollment, with more individuals clamoring to attend Austin Peay in the years to come.

Then in March 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to just about everything. Students around the world still wanted to study at Austin Peay, but the coronavirus was making that almost impossible.

“Last year we had a hard time getting students to campus because they couldn’t get their travel VISAs approved,” Dr. Marissa Chandler, director of APSU’s Office of Study Abroad and International Exchange, said.

She hoped 2021 would fare a little better, and last month, when her office hosted an international student orientation, she realized she didn’t need to worry anymore.

“It was one of the biggest new student orientation groups that I’ve ever seen,” Chandler said. “We had 45 students attend, with more still waiting to get their VISA appointments. Things are reviving.”

This fall, Austin Peay welcomed students from Honduras, Japan, Kenya, Cuba, the Bahamas, Germany, Aruba, Colombia and Nigeria. In fact, most of APSU’s international students are coming from that African nation.

“The majority are from Nigeria, and they’re coming for our programs,” Chandler said.

They’re particularly eager to enroll in the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics’ graduate programs – a Master of Science (M.S.) and a Professional Science Masters (P.S.M.) in Computer Science and Quantitative Methods.

When those graduate programs were first unveiled a few years ago, Dr. Samuel Jator, APSU professor of mathematics, recruited students from his alma mater, Nigeria’s University of Lagos. Now, many of those students and recent graduates are doing the recruiting through word of mouth.

That’s what brought Nigerian native Oluwatooni I. Ajayi to Austin Peay this year. She is pursuing the graduate degree, with a concentration in information assurance and security.

“I have a friend who is here who said, ‘Oh my god, you need to come to my school,” she said. “I told him my plans were to get a master’s, and he was campaigning for Austin Peay.”

Oluwatooni, who goes by Toni, was already living in the U.S., earning her undergraduate degree at another institution. When she arrived on campus, Toni said she was shocked by what she found here.

“I’ve been an international student at two different schools now, and there’s a major difference at Austin Peay,” she said. “They have a good international community; it feels like home away from home. I was impressed, not just academically, but by the resources they gave us.”

Those resources included how to use libraries on and off campus, how to use the Foy Fitness Center and how to get a driver’s license in Clarksville.

For Chandler, bringing students like Toni to campus helps provide APSU students with a much-needed international perspective.

“It’s an opportunity for us to bring the world to our campus,” she said. “We know that not everyone can go study abroad or travel, but bringing diversity and global awareness to the campus really enriches our students, staff and faculty.”

For information on APSU’s international students, visit https://www.apsu.edu/international/index.php

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