For the last decade, USC has enrolled the largest number of international students of any college in the country: 8,615 last year. The Los Angeles university worked hard to achieve that — recruiting students from China, India and South Korea, among 100 countries in all, and providing services for the foreign students once they get here.
Now campus officials are faced with the slayings this week of two graduate engineering students from China in a shooting about a mile off campus. While mourning this tragic event, they also hope the school won't lose its top position in international enrollment and that students from across the world still will consider the University of Southern California both academically excellent and safe.
Peggy Blumenthal, an official at the Institute of International Education, said she does not think there will be any significant dip in foreign enrollment, especially as USC moves to calm fears. "I think most students are aware that there are safety challenges in any big city and Los Angeles is not an exception," she said, adding that most Chinese and other foreign students in the United States also come from major cities.
More than salesmanship, she said, keeps USC the favorite for so many international students. The university sends students home as happy alumni and they become "walking advertisements for recruiting new students," said Blumenthal, whose group with the State Department compiles annual surveys of foreign enrollment in U.S. colleges.