Navitas program draws more international students than ever

By Katie Gardner
On November 20, 2012

  • Two international students pose with the university mascot, Gnarlz. Courtesy

This semester, through the help of the Navitas Pathway Program, UNH has enrolled its largest international class to date.

Navitas is a program based out of Australia that works with universities around the world with the goal of bringing in more international students. The program came to UNH in May 2011 and currently has 186 students in the program, coming from many countries, including Germany, Russia, Turkey and China.

Many of the students from these countries learn about Navitas through recruiters that the program sends out on behalf of UNH. By coming to the United States, these students are offered opportunities that are not always available to them in their home countries. Navitas works closely with students in order to provide a smooth transition into American culture and college life.

UNH has been interested in having more international students attend the university for quite some time now, and Navitas seemed to be the perfect way to do so.

"UNH has identified internationalization as a priority in its strategic plan and increasing the international student population is a part of this effort," said Leila Paje-Manalo, the director of the Office of International Students and Scholars.

Paje-Manalo said that UNH believes it is important to have an international presence on campus because of the many benefits it will offer to American students. One of UNH's goals is for graduates to be well-prepared to work and live in a globalized world.

"One of the ways to achieve this goal is to diversify the perspectives in the classrooms and create opportunities for U.S. students to have meaningful interactions with international students," Paje-Manalo said.

While UNH students can easily interact with Navitas students in dorms and in extracurricular activities, this is not possible in the classroom until the international students become integrated into regular UNH classes.

Navitas students are considered UNH students from the start at their acceptance to the university, even while they only take specific classes to the Navitas program. Nativas students can't take the same classes as other students until they pass a series of tests. They must pass a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and must meet the GPA requirement for their intended major.  

Emily Chung, a sophomore from Hong Kong, did just this after completing the Navitas program last year. She is now taking the same number of classes as any other UNH student and is sitting in classrooms alongside American students. While she said she enjoys her new classes, she said that she found Navitas to be very helpful during her last year.

"It's a bridge to help me adapt to school and culture here," Chung said. She noted that she knows Navitas will always be there if she needs assistance in her classes, which are more challenging than they were in the program.

Many UNH students often seem to wonder why international students decide to come here to a small New Hampshire town, when they could go anywhere they choose. Coming from a big city, Chung found the choice to be easy.

"I really like New England," she said. "If I don't experience a country life now, I won't be able to in my life."

Allen Lu, a freshman from China, agreed and said that UNH is the perfect place for him to learn English. "The weather is nice and I like the campus," he said.

Jerry Xu, who is also a freshman from China, spoke of how it was the beauty of the campus that drew him in.

The people here also seem to have a big impact on the international students, with Chung and Lu both saying that they found it very easy to make American friends. Iris Zhao, also from China, agreed and explained that one of her favorite aspects of UNH and the Navitas program is her conversation partner, a UNH student whom she meets with regularly to work on her English. It may be friendliness like this, combined with a true desire to learn, that keeps the number of international students here on campus steadily rising.


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