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New study abroad program would make UNC students international admissions ambassadors

Students studying abroad will soon have the chance to serve as admissions ambassadors for the University around the world.

In an effort to make UNC a more diverse campus, student government’s Global University Committee is working with the Study Abroad Office and the Office of International Student and Scholar Services to create an international ambassadors program, the committee’s co-chairwoman Shannon Steel said.

“The new organization’s goal is to increase the number of international applicants, allowing for a more diverse pool of students,” Steel said.

But UNC’s two percent cap on international students does not allow for a significant gain in diversity, said Jean Hughes, interim director of the international office.

In fall 2009, 114 undergraduate international students came to UNC, she said. That number increased to 158 in 2010. Hughes estimated that more than 200 students will enroll this year, though about 300 were accepted.

“The number of international students admitted to the University will most likely remain steady at two percent,” Hughes said.

“But we hope that the numbers will increase in later years.”

To begin the project, Steel said study abroad students will bring a “skill kit” to high schools abroad. It will include a presentation with information about the UNC system, higher education in the United States, college credit, and campus and social life.

Steel said she hopes the program will be up and running by next summer. She added that the amount of money it will cost is uncertain.

Students interested in the program can apply later this year.

“It’s a way to help UNC, too,” Steel said.

“UNC students will have a chance to give back and increase the reputation internationally.”

Jaime Pinies, an exchange student from Madrid, said a program targeted to high school students abroad would open the eyes of foreign students to other options.

“A lot of my friends don’t consider studying abroad because the only universities we hear about are the Ivy Leagues,” Pinies said.

“But UNC’s level of education is excellent, and the University should reach out to more students.”

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