Five officials from Long Beach City College are on a 12-day trip to Thailand and South Korea to recruit students for a new American language and cultural institute on the college's campus.
The trip will cost about $16,000, but college officials said they hope to recruit more foreign students, who pay nearly 10 times what local students pay in registration fees.
"I have no doubt we will more than recoup the cost of the trip," said Stan Francus, the school's vice president of planning and governmental relations.
Francus said the delegation's primary goal is to encourage students to sign up for the language institute's inaugural session this summer. Students will pay between $1,300 and $1,500 for an intensive, nine-week tutorial on the English language and U.S. culture.
The students could eventually sign up for additional courses, after the summer session, that would cost $133 per unit compared with $13 per unit paid by California residents. Out-of-state students pay $127 per unit.
Other community colleges also have intensified their efforts to recruit foreign students, and have spent thousands of dollars on overseas recruiting trips. Los Angeles Community College District, for example, spends about $75,000 a year on trips and promotions for its international student program, and Orange Coast College last year spent about $200,000 to run its international center and pay for recruiting advertisements.
In addition to charging foreign students higher fees, colleges can deposit the money directly into their general funds. Fees paid by California residents go to the state, which allocates money to each campus according to student enrollment.
Enrollment in the international program at Long Beach City College has grown from about 50 students to 100 in the past year, Francus said.
Some trustees said they hope the recruiting trip, the first by officials at the college, will elevate the school's status among foreign students.
"There is a lot of competition for the education dollar these days, and we hope (the language institute) will give us that extra edge with students from overseas," said trustee Katherine F. Aschieris. "We should be doing anything we can do to expand our student base."
Another trustee, however, said she questioned why the board didn't learn about the trip until after it had been planned. "If we are going to embark on what seems to be a major project, I think the board needs more discussion and more details," said E. Gerrie Schipske. "We should have been able to deliberate a bit on it."
The overseas delegation includes college President Barbara Adams; Bill Millington, president of the board of trustees; Well Sloniger, vice president of student services; Roger Schultz, coordinator of the international student office, and John Chamberlain, who teaches international business.
Delegations from Thailand and South Korea visited the Long Beach campus last year. The visitors included high-ranking officials from Thailand's Ministry of Education and the president of a South Korean technical college.
"There is a cultural issue here, and we want to make sure we reciprocate appropriately," Francus said. "The size of the delegation and the status of the delegation's leader is very important to them."