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Release: Immediate

Media Advisory

International students from the Asian countries most heavily affected by the current economic crisis are facing crises of their own as they attempt to replace the money they are no longer receiving from home to fund their education. Gary Althen, Director of the Office of International Students and Scholars at the University of Iowa, is following the economic situation closely as it applies to international students. He is available to talk about what impact the financial crisis may have on international student enrollment, how the financial emergency the students face may affect local businesses and landlords, and what the UI can do to assist Asian students who are facing financial difficulties. He can be reached at the UI at (319) 335-0335.

During the fall semester, there were 200 students from Korea enrolled at the UI, 65 from Malaysia, 28 from Thailand, and 28 from Indonesia. These are the four countries most seriously affected by the current economic crisis, Althen said. Enrollment figures are not final yet for the UI 1998 spring semester, so it is not yet clear how many students attending the UI have had to put their education on hold as their home countries weather this economic crisis.

"The value of the currency in the four countries has declined dramatically," Althen said. "In the case of Indonesia, it now costs more than three times as much as it did just a few months ago to support someone studying in the United States." In the other three countries the devaluations have not been as drastic, but they have been quite serious, he said.

While the UI cannot waive tuition for students dealing with this financial crisis, students may be able to arrange to defer tuition payment for a period of several months, allowing them to enroll for the spring semester and pay tuition later when the economies in their home countries have begun to recover, Althen said.

Althen is currently the president of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, a national organization that promotes the exchange of students and scholars to and from the United States. In this position he has a national perspective on this crisis in addition to his local knowledge.

An overview of how the Asian financial crisis is affecting colleges and universities across the U.S. is available on the NAFSA Web page: