UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences sees loss of undergrad international students

The 2021 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion report from the University of Iowa’s largest college shows a loss of nearly 200 undergraduate international students.


Tate Hildyard

University of Iowa students walk across the T.Anne Cleary walkway on their first day of the new semester on Monday, August 24th, 2020. Despite the pandemic, campus remains open and some classes are still being held in person.

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Editor

The University of Iowa’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences saw a drop in undergraduate international and underrepresented minority students enrollment in the past year, according to the 2021 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Annual Report released Monday

The college lost 172 international undergraduate students, bringing the 2021 total to 360. It also saw a decrease of 85 underrepresented minority students. 

The total number of undergraduate students in the college dropped by 0.06 percent, so the percent of underrepresented minority students went up while the number decreased. 

Meanwhile, the graduate student population among these groups saw an increase.

International and minority graduate students enrolled in the college both went up, as did the total number of enrolled students. More than 20 percent of the graduate students enrolled in the UI’s biggest college are international students according to the report. Underrepresented minorities make up 11.4 percent.

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“This increase [in graduate international students] is encouraging to see given the added barriers created by the COVID pandemic, safety concerns, and restrictions on international travel,” the report said. “The college is reviewing recruitment efforts for international students and is seeking to increase the diversity of its graduate population.”

It is unclear what graduate numbers increased while undergraduates decreased. The report suggested the decrease in the latter group was due to the pandemic. 

The college did not provide breakdowns of the racial or ethnic groups of undergraduate or graduate students in the 2021 report. 

There was also an increase in male professors in 2021 from 2020. With the hiring of 17 additional male professors and the loss of four women, men now make up 51.7 percent of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty.

The college went up in the number of underrepresented minority faculty, with an increase of two professors. Still, less than 10 percent of the faculty identify as a minority. 

RELATED: UI sees continued drop in international student enrollment for the fifth year

“While our faculty diversity is still far from where we would like it to be, the College’s work with the Path to Distinction and intentional use of exit interviews are steps in the right direction to increase our diversity over time,” the annual report said. 

The college set a goal in 2021 to increase the percentage of underrepresented minority faculty by 5 percent by 2026. The report did not specify if the college believes it’s on track to succeed in that goal or not. 

In 2021, the number of white professors on the tenure and institutional track increased to nearly 78 percent. Faculty of two or more races and Hispanic/Latinx were the only two racial or ethnic groups to see a decrease in the number of faculty on the track. 

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences staff remains heavily female, with a 65-35 percentage split. The college’s staff also saw a decrease in underrepresented minority workers, from 12 to 10. 

“As we work through our DEI Action Plan, CLAS will be paying attention to our retention practices among staff,” the report said. “We intend to implement a program similar to Path to Distinction for the recruitment of and hiring process for new staff members, as well as conducting exit interviews to address and reduce reasons for leaving.”