About the I-Center
June 29, 2018
To the members of the Tufts community,
I am pleased to announce the formation of a single, university-wide Tufts International Center to serve international students, scholars, faculty and staff, effective July 1, 2018. The consolidated office will provide immigration services, orientation, and ongoing support for international members of our community across all of Tufts’ schools and administrative divisions.
Currently, three separate offices provide visa services, training and advice on immigration status, and programming to support Tufts’ international populations. Effective July 1, these offices will consolidate under the Tufts International Center. The new Center will retain its physical presence at the existing locations on the Medford/Somerville campus at the International Center on Sawyer Ave and the Office of the Registrar at the Fletcher School, and on the Boston Health Sciences Campus in the offices of the Office of International Affairs in Posner Hall. It will report to Diana Chigas, Senior International Officer and Associate Provost, and will be led by Jane Etish-Andrews, until her previously announced retirement in October, 2018. A search is being conducted for her successor as director.
This new organizational structure will improve our ability to support international members of our community effectively and respond to increasingly complicated and stringent U.S. immigration policies and more frequent changes in visa regulations. Consolidating the offices will also allow us to offer greater outreach and programming support to students and scholars as they adjust to life at Tufts and in the United States.
Tufts has long prided itself on having a global perspective and being a welcoming and inclusive community for international students, scholars, faculty, and staff. We believe strongly in the value of a diverse international community at our university, and are concerned about the impact of recent developments in immigration policies and practices on our students, on our campuses and in our communities. We will continue to advocate for travel and immigration policies that permit the free exchange of ideas across borders and that create a welcoming environment for international, immigrant and undocumented students.
If you have any questions about this transition, please contact Diana Chigas, Senior International Officer and Associate Provost, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Provost and Senior Vice President ad interim
History and Alumni Stories
The Tufts University International Center was founded in 1952 to provide immigration visas and support to the small but growing, international student, faculty, and scholar community on campus. At the time, there was a single part-time Foreign Student Advisor, Elliot King Shapira, who was an Associate Professor of Romance Languages. While today there are nearly 1100 international students, faculty, and scholars at Tufts (Medford campus), in the first decade of the International Center, the enrollment figure did not exceed 56.
As more international students attended Tufts, the International Center expanded with the university. In 1971, the International Center - then called the Office of the Advisor to Foreign Students - moved to Ballou Hall under the supervision of the Counseling Office. That same year, Betsy Thompson, who worked as a part-time secretary for three years in the Office of the Advisor to Foreign Students, was promoted to the first full-time Foreign Student Advisor; in fact, her original title was Foreign Student Secretary before changing to Foreign Student Advisor.
In July 1971, Mary Hecht (1971-75) replaced Thompson, and the Office of the Advisor to Foreign Students also moved to North Hall, then under the supervision of the College of Special Studies. North Hall, also occupied by the Psychology Department and the Dean of Special Studies, was destroyed in February 1972 by a conflagration. The large fire destroyed all written records of the Office of the Advisor to Foreign Students prior to 1972. To this day, detailed enrollment records of international students before 1972 are incomplete.
The Office of the Advisor to Foreign Students was temporarily relocated in Ballou Hall for a few months and then moved to the basement of Curtis Hall until 1976. The idea for an International House (I-House) was generated through part-time student employees in 1972 when the Office of the Advisor to Foreign Students. With the administrative support of Hecht, as well as Dean of Students James Steindler, the International House was established at the Davies House in 1972; the Davies House still remains the residence for undergraduate international and American students.
Also during Hecht's tenure the staff positions and office underwent title changes: Hecht's position was renamed to International Student & Faculty Advisor, responding to the increase of faculty and scholars on J-1 visitor-exchange visas, and the Office to the Advisor to Foreign Students was renamed to the International Office. Both of these title changes reflect the ecumenical renaming of foreign student to international student, as initiated by the National Association of Foreign Student Advisors (NAFSA). Hecht expanded the International Office's services to internationals on campus to include a host family program, English as a Second Language program for spouses of international students, and the international student furniture pool. The International Office coordinated these service programs with the help of community volunteers.
Under the new leadership of Leslie Rowe (1975-1983) as Director of Foreign Student and Scholars, the International Office moved first to Brown House in 1976 and then to the Davies House in 1979, occupying what is now the triple room on the first floor.
While in her position, Rowe pursued a degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Upon completion of her degree, Rowe resigned from her position as Director in 1983 to work for the Foreign Service and is currently the U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique (2011).
Rowe was succeeded by Jane Etish-Andrews (1983-) - the current Director of the International Center. Etish-Andrews has a master's degree in Teaching English as a Second Language from Boston University and is an adjunct faculty member at Lesley University's Intercultural Relations Program, where she has taught and supervised internships over the years.
Both Directors Rowe and Etish-Andrews have made longstanding commitments to the legacy of Tufts international students; Rowe and Etish-Andrews were actively involved in the regional and national levels of the NAFSA. Rowe and Etish-Andrews also helped to establish the Laila Moshiri Yadzi Memorial Fund in February, 1983. The fund honors Iranian born Tufts student Laila Moshiri Yadzi who was set to graduate with a B.A in History in May, 1982. Sadly, Laila was fatally struck by an automobile on April 24, 1982.
In honor of her memory, Laila's father Mohammad Moshiri Yazdi contributed her tuition to establish the fund in her honor. In the wake of this devastating tragedy, the Laila Moshiri Yazdi fund continues to serve countless international students. Etish-Andrews still meets with the Moshiri Yazdi family annually.
In 1985, the International Office was renamed the International Center (I-Center). The I-Center moved from Davies House to Ballou Hall in 1988, and moved again in 2000 to 20 Sawyer Ave - across the street from the Davies House - where it still is today. The International Center is under the Division of Student Affairs and reported to the Dean of Students until July 2011. Former Dean of Students Bobbie Knable (1980-2000) and Bruce Reitman (2000-2011) have maintained longstanding relationships with the International Center.
As Director of the International Center, Etish-Andrews has created several new programs in response to the steady growing increase of international students. The Intercultural Festival and Parade of Nations was founded in 1984, which is an annual spring event now sponsored by the International Club (I-Club). In 1987, International Orientation (IO) was expanded to include American students, and today IO remains one of the most popular pre-orientation programs for first year students. In the spring of 1993, the International Club established the Oliver Chapman Award, named in honor of Oliver Chapman, an international student from Panama who passed away in 1992. The Chapman Award is awarded annually at the Parade of Nations by the I-Club to a senior who has been active with the on-campus or local international community. The I-Center also runs the Intercultural Conversation Program, first started in 1996, which pairs international graduate students with Tufts undergraduate students who are English speakers, including residents of the I-House. More recent initiations include collaboration with many departments, such as the Counseling Center, Academic Resource Center, and Career Services. Etish-Andrews has been the advisor to the International Club and the International House (Davis House) throughout her entire tenure as Director, and continues to support the Tufts international community as well as maintains relationships with Tufts international alumni.
The International Center provided visa services to all three campuses for students, faculty, scholars, and exchange students until 1989 when the Tufts Medical School formed the Office of International Affairs. This Office provides visa service to the Tufts Medical, Dental and Sackler Schools. Dr. Adel Abu-Moustafa has been Dean of this Office since its creation in 1989. The Tufts Veterinary School in Grafton and the HNRCA (Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging) on the Boston campus have remained affiliated with the I-Center in Medford.
The International Center now has a full-time staff of five, working to increase the knowledge of intercultural issues and immigration laws affecting the Tufts international community. The I-Center also advocates on behalf of the international community to create a campus climate that respects cultural differences.
- Laura Tillery, G10
Davies House History
The Davies House, also known as the International House (or I-House) was constructed at 13 Sawyer Avenue, Medford, MA in 1894 for the Delta Upsilon fraternity. The Delta Upsilon fraternity inhabited the house from 1894 to 1937, when they moved to Professors Row. Phi Mu Delta fraternity then occupied the house briefly from 1939 until 1940. In 1941, the house was used as a women's dormitory for Jackson College. At that time, it was named after Caroline Stodder Davies (1864-1939), the first dean of Jackson College.
Dean Caroline Davies Biography:
Caroline Stodder Davies was born in Methuen, MA on December 3, 1864. She was married to Reverend Owen John Davies in 1895, and had two children with him. Her father, Samuel R. Crocker, was founder and editor of the first journal of literary criticism in the country, Literary World. Davies graduated from Wellesley College in 1887, where she specialized in Greek Language and Literature. Davies worked at Harcourt Place Academy in Ohio for four years. She took a leave of absence from Harcourt Place Academy to attend Newham College in Cambridge, England. Between her studies at Newham and work as headmistress of St. Peter's School in London, Davies lived in England for a number of years and travelled quite a bit in Europe. She particularly developed a fondness of the literary traditions of Rome and Florence. Upon her return to the U.S., Davies resumed teaching in 1904. She taught at several girls' schools in the Chicago area: the University School for Girls, the Kirkland School for Girls, and the Chicago Latin School. Davies returned to London in 1908 to serve as the Headmistress of St. Peter's School.
Davies came to Tufts University in 1910 and served as dean of Jackson College from its establishment in 1910 until 1925. She resided at 72 Professor's Row, the designated residence of the dean of Jackson College. When Tufts briefly attempted academic segregation of sexes, Davies was also appointed Professor of Greek at the Jackson College. Davies was an advocate for women's suffrage and an active member of professional and scholarly organizations. She was listed in the Woman's Who's Who of America, 1914-15. She resigned from her position in 1925 on the grounds of poor health. She died at her daughter's home in Bedford, Massachusetts on February 14, 1939.
Founding of I-House
Mary Hecht was the director of the International Center and one of the founders of the International House. The idea for the International House was generated by international and American students at the International Center in 1971-72. Mehrdad Toofanian, Elizabeth (Collins) Barton (an American student, '74), Juan Rivero (a Cuban student, '74), and Sharon Landsman (a Canadian student, '74) were undergraduates involved the International Center at the time. They wrote a petition, which Mary Hecht wholeheartedly supported and signed. Hecht was concerned at the time about the availability of dormitory rooms for international students, especially during holiday vacations when most dormitories on campus were closed. International students who did not return to their home countries during those breaks had difficulty finding places to stay. Winter Break housing is unfortunately still an issue with which international students struggle forty years later.
The early 1970s were a time of great debate at Tufts, especially surrounding the issue of special interest houses. Thus, the idea of having a separate house for international students was not completely well received. The administration proposed an alternative: to allocate an entire floor of Miller Hall to international students. The administration feared that having a separate house for special interest groups would create more tension and divisions between groups than already existed. A compromise was eventually found: the International House's residents would, as a policy, be comprised of half Americans and half international students. This philosophy for the International House as a special interest house would be for students to have the opportunity to become familiar with new cultures as opposed to students isolating themselves from the rest of the campus.
At the time, petitions for special interest houses needed approval by the Dean of Students Office. In 1972, after much deliberation, James (Jim) Milton Steindler, the Dean of Students from 1969-1974, approved the I-House. Mary Hecht and the students working with her in this effort were surprised and delighted to learn that the Davies House, which was empty at the time, would be available for this purpose. Mehrdad Toofanian was chosen as the first House Manager of the I-House. The first group international and American students was chosen not only for their international backgrounds and interests, but also based on how well they would get along with one another!
The I-House was formed as a Special Interest House. This type of small group housing available through University Housing gives students the opportunity to live with others who share similar cultural or academic interests. To form and maintain a special interest house, there are special criteria that must be met: a detailed proposal must be submitted with proposed activities involving the house and university community, as well as the house's goals; the house must have a faculty sponsor; a list of residents must be submitted to University Housing; the house must designate one of the residents as a house manager and one as a recording secretary; the house must advertise applications for available rooms. There are ten bedrooms in the I-House (seven single rooms, three double rooms, and one triple room) which house sixteen residents.
From 1979 to 1988, the I-House served not only as a residence for students interested in intercultural living, but as the International Center's headquarters. The International Office was located in the triple room on the first floor of the house. This caused some tension for the I-House because of the late-night parties the residents sometimes threw. Staff members would arrive the next morning for work to find students still sleeping on the couches!
Student Life at the I-House
The I-House traditionally selects new residents in late February or early March. A selection committee of returning residents and the director of the International Office review and interview applicants. The philosophy of the I-House is to create an environment in which residents can experience an intercultural living arrangement. The International House consists of residents who represent a mix of students from different nationalities and cultures—including representation of Americans. The goal of the I-House is to foster intercultural friendships and experiences, and to share experiences and cultures with the greater Tufts community.
The small number of students living in the I-House, as well as the close living quarters and similar interests of the residents, creates a unique bonding experience. Part of residents' responsibility of living in the I-House is to host international dinners, discussions, and parties. Many of the events are co-sponsored by the International Center and International Club (which are separate entities, though they are often confused by students as all being the same thing). However, residents also gather in large and small groups spontaneously in the I-House living room or students' bedrooms. I-House residents from the 1970s reminisce about sangria parties, watching old movies, and gathering in the living room to watch Vietnam War news coverage. Residents from the 2010s describe a slightly different experience: they keep in touch through Facebook and text-messaging groups. Many residents' fondest memories of the house involve eye-opening conversations with other residents about their respective cultures, and often over home-cooked ethnic food!
Need for the I-House
Given that the I-House was created forty years ago to promote intercultural understanding, there still is a need for it now. Both past and current residents overwhelmingly agree that there is a need, perhaps even more so now than when the I-House was first created. In today's fast-paced, highly mobile globalized society, it is essential for young people to be able to understand and navigate cultural differences. The I-House brings those differences close to home. It exposes American and international students to things they wouldn't ordinarily experience or know about. For example, residents have debates about women not being allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia.
Living in the I-House has a profound effect on residents, perhaps especially so for the American students. Many students develop interests in international careers, become more involved in international clubs, or take internationally-focused courses. The close-knit community and living quarters of the I-House forces residents not only to learn how to live with numerous roommates; make joint, mutually beneficially decisions; and cooperate in event-planning; but to talk about and deal with cultural differences on a daily basis. Students gain exposure to cultures and differences they may not ever be aware of, and are able to talk about them in a safe and secure environment with their fellow friends.
International and American students alike have very international backgrounds. Some have parents from two different countries; some have never lived in the country in which they were born; some have moved internationally so much they do not know what citizenship to claim. Being surrounded by peers with similarly complex situations helps students to figure out where they fit in the world and what they want to make of themselves. The I-House is a comfortable haven in which individuals can discover and develop their own identities.
- Kathryn Burden,
Graduate Student '12, Boston College,
Intern at Tufts International Center
Since the F-1 student visa was created in 1952, thousands of undergraduate and graduate international students have studied at Tufts University. Today, U.S. colleges and universities are reporting unprecedented numbers of applications from international students. For example, in the 2009/10 academic year, a record high 690,923 international students studied in the United States (IIE, 2010). Tufts University also boasted high attendance in 2009/10, with 680 international students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Even before the creation of the F-1 student visa, international students studied at Tufts University seeking the quality and prestige of an American education. Thousands of undergraduate and graduate international students have called Tufts home, bearing witness to the transformation from a small college "on the hill" to a major research university. In general, the international student population at Tufts University is reflective of United States foreign policy as well as the changing currents of global politics.
It is important to note that in 1972, the International Center was located in North Hall which was completely destroyed by fire. The conflagration destroyed all written records in the International Center (Medford), including enrollment data. As a result, there is no complete record of exact numbers of international student, scholar, and faculty enrollment on visas at Tufts by country and year prior to 1972. Enrollment data are from the following sources: Tufts University Fact Book, Tufts University International Center (Medford), Tufts University Digital Collection and Archives, and Open Doors, a national survey of international students studying in the U.S. run by the Institute of International Education (IIE).
- 1852-1952: Foreign Policy and Good Neighbors
- 1950s: Postwar Politics and The Creation of the F-1 Visa
- 1960s and 1970s: Increasing Attendance & the Rise of OPEC
- 1980s: Reflecting Global Politics
- 1990s: High Attendance
- 2000s: The Creation of SEVIS
- Predictions for the Future of International Students at Tufts
1852-1952: Foreign Policy and Good Neighbors
Coming to the United States to study was not a simple feat for internationals in the early years of Tufts College. Applications, registration, and tuition payments all had to be done through paperwork that took weeks, sometimes months, to arrive in Medford. So it is no surprise that countries sending the highest number of international students for much of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century were geographically and politically close to the United States.
From the founding of Tufts College in 1852 to the beginning of the twentieth century, twenty international students studied at Tufts. The first international students at Tufts came from Canada, Japan, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Panama, and China. Aside from geographical proximity and strong diplomatic relations to the United States, there are no other dominant trends of international students during the early years of Tufts College.
The first international student, Herbert Elliot, arrived at Tufts from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada in 1862. The following year, Tufts received its second international student, Almon Gunnison, also from Nova Scotia, Canada. In 1904, the first female international student to study at Tufts, Lucy Alexander, was from Canada. Because of Canada's geographical proximity and strong diplomatic and cultural ties to the United States, Canada was one of the top leading countries sending international students to Tufts during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Students from Japan and China also attended Tufts College in the early years. The first student from Japan arrived at Tufts in 1873, and eleven more Japanese students studied at Tufts until the start of the Second World War. Tufts admitted its first Chinese student, Yuen Foo Leong, in 1906, and its second, Ting Fen Wang, in 1912. The numbers of Chinese students at Tufts increased throughout the next decade. From 1915-1925, eleven of the fifty-four international students studying at Tufts were from China. Moreover, all but one of these eleven students came to pursue degrees in engineering or in the natural sciences.
The numbers of Central and South American students enrolled at Tufts, particularly during the 1930s, reflects the growing congenial relations between the United States and its neighbors to the South. The "Good Neighbor Policy" of President F.D. Roosevelt resulted not only in an easing of tensions with Central and South American nations, but it also encouraged more Latin American students to study at American institutions. This is especially true of those countries in the Northern part of South America, where this diplomacy was aided by geographical proximity.
The reach of Roosevelt's foreign policy was felt at Tufts. For example, Brazil, Mexico and Trinidad had been sending students to Tufts from the late nineteenth century, and in the early 1930s, the numbers of Latin American students studying at Tufts skyrocketed. From 1930-1940, Central and South American students, including students from Colombia, Venezuela and Costa Rica, accounted for over half of the international undergraduates at Tufts. Thus, the story of Latin American students at Tufts closely mimics the larger geopolitical patterns of the day.
The First and Second World Wars caused significant drops in the number of international students both at Tufts and nationwide. While these dips were less pronounced during the First World War, they became exceedingly distinct as the United States became involved in the Second World War. Tufts saw a significant drop in the number of international students in the late 1930s and early 1940s admitting only a handful of students - the majority of whom were Latin American.
1950s: Postwar Politics and The Creation of the F-1 Visa
After the Second World War, the U.S. government sponsored programs that focused on changing and expanding the American university system. Two major congressional acts that directly impacted the enrollment of U.S. universities were the 1944 G.I. Bill and the Fulbright-Hays Act of 1946. The G.I. Bill financed returning veterans to earn college degrees. While this program was initially intended to grant Americans easier access to U.S. colleges and universities, its implementation also created more funding, resources, and facilities for a larger student population, including the capacity to admit more international students. Additionally, the Fulbright-Hays Act established a global American student exchange to advanced research and study; and nearly sixty years after its inception, the Fulbright program continues to create send Americans students abroad. The National Association for Foreign Student Affairs (NAFSA) was created in 1948 to promote international education exchange by the Fulbright-Hays Act.
A direct result of these U.S. government sponsored programs was a clear increase in matriculation rates of international students. In 1952, Congress responded to increase of arriving international students and passed the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), creating the non-immigrant student visa (F-1 visa) and enabling non-U.S. residents to legally enter the United States for a specified amount of time to purse degree programs. The F-1 student visa is still used today.
At Tufts Medford Campus, the decade of the 1950s was marked by significant structural expansion to meet the demands of new students. Also, the first Foreign Student Advisor position was created in 1952 on campus to provide immigration information and support to growing community of international student, faculty, and scholars.
The trend of the majority of international students coming from countries with strong geographical or political ties to the United States also continues in the decade of the 1950s. For example, neighbors like Canada and Mexico rank among the top ten countries with the largest groups in the United States. Also, India, Iran, Korea, and China - countries that were (more or less) politically friendly with the U.S. in the 1950s - sent the most international students throughout the decade.
At Tufts, international admission statistics generally mirrored the national trend of leading countries: Canada, Mexico, and China were also leading countries at Tufts from 1956-1960. The national data shows that half of all international students were enrolled in undergraduate degree programs, mostly privately funded, and about one quarter of all foreign students are female.
1960s and 1970s: Increasing Attendance and the Rise of OPEC
The high attendance of internationals was the most dominant trend in the decades of the sixties and seventies. According to Open Doors, national enrollment of international students increased from 50,000 students in 1960 to over 200,000 in 1976. By the end of the seventies, the United States was the largest host country for international students.
The greater Boston area also maintained high enrollment of international students; Harvard University, Boston University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology continually ranked in the top ten U.S. universities for foreign enrollment. Many international students at Tufts comment that living near Boston (and other major universities) was a major factor in their decision to study at Tufts.
While Tufts is smaller than other local universities like Harvard, BU and MIT, the international student population and leading nationality groups at Tufts in the sixties and seventies nonetheless reflects national trends. The leading countries in the 1960s were Canada and China, as well as a strong presence of Western European countries. In the 1970s, Canada was the leading country in the first half of the decade, replaced by Iran in the second part of the decade. Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and France also maintained steady attendance throughout the 1970s.
Iran was the leading nationality group from 1975 to 1984 at Tufts and nationally. Iran and other member countries of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) made substantial investments in education during this time, making up over 30% of foreign student populations studying in the U.S.
Interestingly, during Iranian Revolution of 1979, the U.S. Government realized it needed a systematic way to track student immigration; there was no information system that kept track of the international students physically present in the country. Tufts International Center Director Jane Etish-Andrews, who worked at Boston University's International Students and Scholars Office at the time, recalls that the U.S. government required designated officers to collect information, such as total student numbers from Iran, and each student had to present themselves at U.S. immigration. This need for a student immigration tracking system foreshadows the implementation of SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) in 2002.
1980s: Reflecting Global Politics
The international student enrollment continued to increase steadily at Tufts University in the 1980s. Iran, People's Republic of China, India, Taiwan, and Greece, were the leading countries sending international students to Tufts in the 1980s, although there were significant changes in their relative positions.
At Tufts in the beginning of the 1980s, Iranians continued to have the highest number of international students with over 55 students, faculty, and scholars from the country. By the end of the decade, however, there was a clear decline in attendance from Iran. In 1987/88, Iran dropped to sixth leading country, and from 1987-1990, replaced by China, India, Taiwan, Canada, and Greece.
In contrast to the decrease of international students from Iran, students from P.R. China (particularly graduate students) gradually increased in numbers, and by the end of the 1980s, P.R. China was the leading country: from 28 students in 1985/86 to 71 from 1989/90. Significantly, from 1983-1985, the first Chinese undergraduate student, Yuan-Zhi (Kevin) Zhang, since the end of the Cultural Revolution came to Tufts. Thus, from 1986-1989, all international students from P.R. China were studying at the graduate level at Tufts.
The role of the International Center has also changed throughout the course of the 1980s. Please read more about the history of the International Center.
In the 1990s, Tufts continued to hold a wide representation of nationalities. Canada, Greece, India, Japan, People's Republic of China, and Taiwan were the leading countries sending international students to study at Tufts in the 1990s.
Overall, Tufts enrollment trends are in line with national trends. In particular, in the 1990s there was an unprecedented increase of undergraduate and graduate international students from Asian countries studying in the United States as well as at Tufts University. Consistently throughout the entire decade, India, Japan, P.R. China, Korea and Taiwan were ranked in the top ten leading countries. This trend of high enrollment from Asian countries is also a dominant trend into the next decade.
In the 1990s, undergraduate admissions also began to recruit undergraduate students from Latin American, Western European, and Middle Eastern countries. By the end of the decade, the International Scholarship Committee put pressure on the Vice President of Arts & Sciences and undergraduate admissions to offer scholarships to undergraduate international students. In 1999, the first scholarship for international students was created, allowing undergraduate international students to study in the United States with full financial support from the university. As a result of this important financial commitment to international education, the first undergraduate student from Bulgaria studied at Tufts in 1999; Tufts has had an undergraduate student from Bulgaria every consecutive year since 1999.
2000s: The Creation of SEVIS
The creation and implementation of SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) in the summer of 2002 has changed the entire way international students study in the United States. SEVIS is the first student tracking database, authorizing access to students' immigration records. Colleges and universities report information to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service).
SEVIS was massive project to take on, but Tufts University responded positively. Having a government security database might impersonalize relationships to students, but in fact, it helped form relationships with students because the staff members at the International Center became more involved in immigration affairs.
From 2000-2010, the demographics of the international student studying at Tufts University have changed: the ratio of men to women is becoming more equal, undergraduate students are outnumbering graduate, and there are more scholarship students and other funding opportunities for international students. While the 2008 recession did impact international enrollment at Tufts, it did so temporarily; undergraduate and graduate enrollment is now stronger than ever, surpassing pre-recession enrollment figures. Incoming classes continue to be larger, stronger, and more competitive.
Parallel to national trends, countries from Asia are sending the majority of international students to Tufts. In 2009/2010, P.R. China is in the top place of origin nationally for the first time since 2000/2001. From 2001-2009, India was the top place of origin nationally.
At Tufts, People's Republic of China, India, and South Korea have continually been the top leading countries at Tufts in the 1990s. P.R. China and India are the leading nationality groups at Tufts consecutively from 1998/99 to present. By the end of the 2000s, there have been a large and responsive group of Tufts alumni organizations in, Hong Kong, India, P.R. China, Singapore, S. Korea, and Thailand.
Predictions for the Future of International Students at Tufts University
As the decade of the 2010s has begun, it is clear that international students in the U.S. are big business: in 2009 alone, international education in the U.S. totaled $12.8 billion, and there is no indication of the industry slowing down.
It seems likely that the trend of Chinese undergraduate students will continue. Another pattern that is likely to remain the same is the more equal gender ratios of undergraduate and graduate international students, and a continued broader breadth, economically-speaking. With popular undergraduate majors such as engineering and international relations, as well as strong graduate degree programs at Medford, Boston, and Grafton campuses, Tufts continues to be a popular choice for international students.
While the face of international education in the United States will continually change in terms of enrollment figures and leading countries, one thing will remain constant: a degree from Tufts University is received with prestige and marketability worldwide. One's education, experiences, connections made at Tufts "On the Hill" resonate on a global level.
- Profile by Laura Tillery G10
The Alumni Stories is a project started in 2009 by Director Jane Etish-Andrews as a way to document the experiences and accolades of Tufts University's international alumni.
Since the F-1 student visa was created in 1952, thousands of undergraduate and graduate international students have studied at Tufts University. However, being an international student today can seem to be very different from being an international student in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s!
Back in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, for example, students had to wait several weeks for their visa documents to be sent from campus to their home country via cargo ship - not DHL, FedEx, or other express mail carriers like today. Before the internet, international students could not pay their tuition with Tufts ebill or electronic banking; rather, internationals paid their tuition months in advance, often dealing with an endless sea of paperwork and complicated bank transactions.
One Tufts international alumnus commented how easy international students have it today being able to call home frequently or to talk with family members via webcam. In the 1950s, for instance, international students had to make a reservation with the telephone company for a single international call. It was typical for an international student to speak with his/her parents only once a school year; hand-written letters and telegrams in case of emergency were the preferred methods of communication.
International students before the 1960s also did not hop on a plane overnight to arrive at Logan or JFK Airports. Then, international students traveled by ship, sometimes taking more than two weeks to arrive at Boston; and once they were in Boston, they often stayed for their entire four years, rarely - if ever - returning home during university breaks. Moreover, after they first arrived at Tufts, they were not greeted by host advisors at the now-beloved International Orientation (IO). (International Orientation started in 1987.)
While the transition of arriving in the United States to study is different in the 21st century than in the past, it is also important to consider the shared experiences all international students studying in the United States.