Thursday, July 18, 2024

LSUS acquiring transfer students as relationships deepen with universities in India, Bangladesh

by BIZ Magazine

SHREVEPORT – With an aim to attract international students into the Computer Systems Technology master’s program, LSUS has announced partnerships with six universities in India and one university in Bangladesh.

The memorandums of understanding build pathways for students to continue their education at LSUS and for computer science faculty to collaborate on teaching methods, research, and professional development.

The deepening relationships between LSUS and the member institutions have already yielded five students who have been admitted and plan to pursue their master’s this coming fall, pending the completion of the visa process.

Four students hail from Parul University with one student from Green University (Bangladesh).

“The reality is that there aren’t enough domestic students that are pursuing degrees in computer science to meet demand locally or nationally,” said Dr. Subhajit Chakrabarty, program director for LSUS’s masters in Computer Systems Technology (MSCST). “We are continuing to engage domestic students to enter our program, but we also want to broaden our reach internationally because there is a desire for these students to continue their education in the United States.”

Other Indian institutions with whom LSUS has partnered include SR University, GNIOT Group of Universities, Institute of Infrastructure Technology Research and Management, Bhagwan Mahavir University, and Royal Global University Guwahati.

These universities, which are located in various regions of India, consist of student populations between 20,000-40,000 each with a significant segment in technology and science programs.

Chakrabarty, who is from India and taught in the Indian university system before coming to the United States himself, started making connections as early as 2020 via Zoom meetings.

Once the COVID-19 pandemic subsided, he and Dr. Sanjay Menon (Dean of Graduate Studies at LSUS) visited numerous Indian campuses in person in 2022 and 2023.

With more MOU agreements in the works, Chakrabarty can envision LSUS increasing its current program of 30 students to well over 100 students within a couple of years.

“The MOUs open the door for further exploration and conversation, and these agreements help us promote our program on these campuses,” Chakrabarty said. “We have internships and other work opportunities built into our program, and those are valuable options to gain experience as part of the education.

“We have a quality program with great faculty, six of seven of whom are international and who have empathy for the hurdles that international students face. Students who’ve been through our program have a high opinion of us, and we’re already seeing growth through word-of-mouth. The MOUs can accelerate that process.”

Chakrabarty added nearby institutions like UL Monroe and Southern Arkansas have bustling international student populations that total in the multiple hundreds in STEM programs.

While LSUS’s total international student population is expected to be around 370 this fall (including online students), growth in the MSCST program can be a driver of face-to-face student expansion that bring internationals to campus.

Anne-Marie Bruner Tracey, the assistant dean for international students at LSUS, said relationship-heavy countries like India can be a catalyst for word-of-mouth promotion.

“International students who’ve completed this and other LSUS programs have had great experiences with us, and they are sharing those experiences with people back home, which can lead to greater interest and potentially more students,” Bruner-Tracey said. “We want to make LSUS a destination for international students to study, and these MOUs create pathways for international students to come here.

“Colleges around the country are going to be facing a domestic student population shortage from the ‘2025 enrollment cliff.’ International students can play a vital role in stabilizing and growing college enrollments.”

The enrollment cliff refers to a lower birth rate during and following The Great Recession in 2007. Those children are coming of college age starting in 2025.

Louisiana as a whole is embracing international students through Study Louisiana, a consortium that’s promoting higher education as a U.S. export. More than 8,500 people worldwide attended a NAFSA conference (Association of International Educators) in New Orleans in early June.

International students do face a lengthy admissions process, but MOUs can shorten that process.

“A typical admissions process for an international student can be anywhere from 9-12 months,” Chakrabarty said. “Part of this is a course-by-course evaluation, which is where we evaluate an international student’s transcript to determine if they meet our educational requirements.

“But with our MOU institutions, we know their curriculum and the quality of their education, so it’s something we don’t require.”

Chakrabarty added the admissions process without the course-by-course evaluation, which can also pose a financial hurdle at $250, can decrease the admissions time to around three months.

While the agreements aren’t necessarily limited to the MSCST program, that program is the focus because of its flexible degree plan that appeals to technology-centric countries like India and Bangladesh.

The degree is interdisciplinary in that a computer science bachelor’s degree isn’t required. The program has concentrations in computer science, cyber security and networking, business administration, biomedical informatics, and artificial intelligence/machine learning.

All international graduates are permitted one year of work permission in the United States, but graduates in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) programs are permitted three years of work permission.

“We do have internships in our own lab and employment opportunities in the community,” Chakrabarty said. “The need for computer science professionals is very real, and international students are eager to contribute in this way.”

To learn more about the MSCST program at LSUS, visit the program website.

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