News | Administration

Barnard reaches beyond borders with hope of building global presence

Barnard is determined to go international.

From the “Women Changing China” symposium in Beijing last year to the upcoming “Women in the Arab World” forum in Dubai, administrators are attempting to make Barnard a household name abroad. Efforts in international growth come as affiliate Columbia strives to become a global university by running the annual World Leaders Forum and opening Global Centers overseas.

The most direct of Barnard’s strategies to promote its international presence is the international symposium series, which was recently instituted to attract students from less traditionally represented countries and to encourage female leadership globally.

Dean and assistant provost Hilary Link, who works on all of Barnard’s international initiatives, developed the symposiums and also started a program for visiting international students.

Under Link’s leadership, Barnard is welcoming more students through the Visiting International Students Program (VISP), including students from China, Korea, Denmark, and Italy.

VISP provides opportunities for foreign students to enroll at Barnard for a semester. Starting off as just a five-student pilot program last spring, it has grown to 42 students who will be coming in Spring 2010 from partner institutions.

In addition, a committee of Barnard administrators from different departments—called the Administrator International Group—meets regularly to discuss the international community on campus and the school’s outreach efforts. Barnard sends representatives abroad to promote cultural exchange by bringing international students in and sending U.S. students out.

According to Johanna Fishbein, Senior Admissions Officer and International Recruitment Coordinator at Barnard, “International students bring a vast range of experiences and perspectives to the college community, and we want our student body to benefit from that diversity on campus in the same way they do from all of New York City.”

Barnard’s comparatively small endowment has resulted in a traditionally smaller international student body than its peers, because less money is available for fellowships and international promoting and recruiting. Still, the Admissions Office’s intensified efforts have led to an almost 200 percent increase in full-degree international students in the past year.

Link attributed this growth to the fact that “word of Barnard has gotten out on some level,” possibly due to the Admissions Office’s new focus on regions that students haven’t consistently come from before, or due to the increased number of Barnard students studying abroad who represent their school and garner interest.

Fishbein agreed that progress is being made in terms of international numbers rising. “Our percentage of international students on campus has increased in the past several years and is, in part, a direct result of our outreach to visit schools and meet with students as well as meeting counselors at international schools conferences, increasing awareness of Barnard through our symposiums, bringing younger students to our pre-college programs in the summer, and increasing contact with alumnae worldwide,” she said.

After attracting international students to campus, Barnard aims to accommodate these students upon their arrival. Barnard’s efforts to globalize involve different departments working together to reach their international audience, while creating a comprehensive support system for students as they acclimate to a new country. According to Dean Link, Barnard offers information sessions, workshops, and guidance in all aspects of life for the students because they “have to hit the ground running” and deserve all the assistance they need.

APPENDED: An earlier version of this story referred to the Dubai event by a slightly different name. Spectator regrets the error.


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