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UST Welcomes Largest Class of International Students
2/15/2011
The University of St. Thomas welcomes diversity and provides a warm and supportive atmosphere for international students. UST students represent 31 states and 59 countries, making UST's student body one of the most multi-cultural in Texas and in the Southwest. UST international students frequently praise the unparalleled personal attention they receive from the staff in the Office of International Student and Scholar Services and the Office of Admissions, who are experienced and well-trained to cater to the unique needs of international students.

In 2010, UST was home to 242 international students. The University is becoming a more popular educational destination for international students. The spring 2011 semester saw its largest enrollment of new international students in recent history. UST welcomed 49 new international and exchange students from 24 countries.

With the reorganization of the International Student Services to the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), UST is providing additional support and training for students who may need extra help navigating the requirements to study in the United States and life on an American college campus.

As a former international student, Fawziyia Alsarraj, director of International Student and Scholar Services, understands the complexities of entering the United States to pursue a higher education degree. Alsarraj has 10 years of experience in the field of immigration law, which gives her an in-depth knowledge and understanding of visa classifications, and enables her to provide advice and guidance on various visas.

Alsarraj said ISSS has introduced a number of programs designed to specifically help international students. The Tutoring Services Center now offers tutoring for students whose first language is not English. Though an international student orientation has traditionally been offered in fall, an additional orientation was held on Jan. 19 to serve the record-number of new international students. Participants were introduced to representatives from the Tutorial Services Center, the Office of Counseling and Disability Services, Academic Advising, Admissions and Residence Life. Students also heard a presentation from UST President Dr. Robert Ivany, who described his own family’s experiences coming to the United States from Hungary.

“More than anything, international students say that they like UST because they have access to the ISSS and its director, who works step-by-step with them to make sure their questions are answered and that they meet the requirements to maintain their student status,” Alsarraj said. “They enjoy the diversity on campus, not only among the students but also among the faculty. The international diversity of the faculty at UST mirrors the international diversity of the student body.”

International students have also benefitted from other recent programs offered by the ISSS, including workshops on OPT and CPT, which helps students understand the legal requirements for employment and internships off campus. A workshop on filing international student taxes is also offered.

For more information, contact Fawziyia Alsarraj at alsarrf@stthom.edu or 713.525.3503.


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