By Kayla Wiles, Columnist
Candice Chan, Furman’s new dean of international admissions, listens at a Friday Oct. 28 roundtable meeting as Furman faculty and the Student Diversity Council voice concerns over the university’s international population.
The concerns are broad: How do international students get jobs and internships if many organizations require U.S. citizenship? How do professors help their international advisees? Why can’t there be scholarships specific to international students?
Once an international student from Hong Kong herself, Chan has already internalized these struggles.
“There’s a lot of work to be done here,” she said. “I’m here to listen so that I can be a voice for them.”
Despite having held various positions in enrollment management and international admissions at other universities, Chan believes that she still has “a lot to learn” about Furman’s own programs — both recruitment and support for international students — before she knows what to improve.
“After talking with some of the staff, I think it’s kind of the right time for me to be here. [In the past] it was a focus to recruit more international students, but I think that there are a lot of things that we can do,” Chan said.
Currently, internationals make up about six percent of the Furman student body, according to Chan. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported a lower figure of 4.7 percent in September 2016. Only 10 freshmen holding foreign student visas and seeking degrees committed to Furman this academic year, down from approximately 30 freshmen in previous years.
Admissions hopes to increase the international student population to 10 percent in the future, Chan said.
Since becoming Furman’s dean of international admissions in August, Chan has traveled with other admissions staff to India, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and China to recruit students.
Most of Chan’s time so far has been occupied by bringing in international students for the next academic year and learning about Furman’s international recruitment history.
Based on what she has observed, Chan wants to increase “faculty exchange” between Furman and other countries.
“Furman’s faculty will go overseas while faculty from foreign countries will come to Furman,” Chan said. “It helps with research, internationalizing the curriculum and getting Furman’s name out to other countries through the professors — both Furman and foreign — that are involved.”
Increasing the international student population to the admissions goal of 10 percent could take five to 10 years, Chan said, but is reasonable.
“I would like to have a whole separate plan that is international-specific,” Chan said. “We need materials in different languages, a website and all that good stuff.”
Distinguished marketing for international students could make Furman’s programs more understandable and appealing to different cultures.
“Liberal arts is starting to become more popular overseas,” Chan said. “When we are explaining a U.S. education, we have to put in extra effort because it’s so different [from other English-speaking countries].”
Besides attending Student Diversity Council meetings and talking to faculty across departments, Chan also wants to interact more with international students.
“You can speak the language, but sometimes learning the culture is completely different. I want to help other international students who are like me: leaving home, going 10,000 miles away, graduating, returning to their countries and doing very well in their fields of study,” she said.