Despite the effects of COVID-19 on travel, international enrollment has remained consistent at Wartburg.

The number of registered international students in the past five years has averaged 121. The college saw the lowest number of 115 in 2018 and the high of 131 in 2016. For the 2020-21 academic year, 117 international students from 61 different countries have been enrolled as Wartburg students, said Edith Waldstein, the vice president for enrollment management.

Information regarding international student enrollment at Wartburg College.
Graphic by Annika Wall.

The total enrollment at Wartburg is 1,564 full- and part-time students.

While the international enrollment number has not changed drastically, the pandemic impacted the student body in a different way.

There are some students who either chose to attend classes remotely or had no other option. As for the 27 international students who were unable to return to campus, Waldstein said she believes there is another component to blame outside of the pandemic.

“That has to do with the fact that President Donald Trump has closed so many U.S. embassies around the world. I think that’s basically been an attempt to decrease the number of student visa applications that are approved. That’s much more a barrier than the pandemic,” Waldstein said.

Eighteen incoming international freshmen were unable to attain visas, and according to Waldstein, that statistic was significantly higher than in previous years. 

To accommodate these students, they were placed into a group and enrolled in the same four virtual classes that are required by the college, including an IS 101 course. This enabled them to be enrolled as full-time Wartburg students without needing a visa.

Another obstacle arose for a first-year international student: orientation

“Orientation was the time that it hit me that we’re in a global pandemic,” Rahima Waheed, a first-year student from Pakistan, said. “When you’re in orientation, so many things happen. It feels like there is some kind of border between us [domestic students and international students].”

Waldstein says it is key to have students from elsewhere.

“I think it’s all about education,” Waldstein said about the importance of an international population on campus. “Learning from one another, learning from those that are of a different background than us. In the larger picture, we hope that kind of education that happens among students and staff is something that will help our students impact their communities in a richer and more meaningful way once they graduate.”

For more information on student enrollment reports, email to set up an appointment with Waldstein.


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