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EDUCATION REPORT - Studying in the US: Growing Interest in Agriculture?

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This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

Gitek Schoene, a graduate student at the University of Florida, measures the growth of landscape plants in 2004
Gitek Schoene, a graduate student at the University of Florida, measures the growth of landscape plants in 2004

In the United States, the area of study with the fewest international students is agriculture. The number was about nine thousand during the last school year. More than ten times as many studied business or engineering.

But the crop of foreign students in agriculture and natural resources was twenty percent bigger than the year before. The Institute of International Education in New York says that was the biggest increase of any area of study. So this week in our Foreign Student Series we look at agriculture programs in the United States.

About one hundred colleges and universities began as public agricultural schools and continue to teach agriculture. These are known as land-grant schools.

In eighteen sixty-two, Congress passed legislation that gave thousands of hectares to each state. States were to sell the land and use the money to establish colleges to teach agriculture, engineering and military science. A congressman from Vermont, Justin Smith Morrill, wrote the legislation.

The state of Michigan already had an agricultural college. But that college was the first to officially agree to receive support under the Morrill Act. It grew into what is now Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Today, Michigan State has more than forty thousand students. More than four thousand of them are international students. They come from one hundred twenty-five countries.

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University offers sixty programs of study. Richard Brandenburg is the associate dean for graduate programs. He says foreign agriculture students this year are from countries including Japan, the Netherlands, Rwanda, El Salvador, Turkey, Sri Lanka and India.

In all, the college has four hundred thirty-three foreign students in East Lansing. It also has eleven students at a campus in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. The only agriculture program currently offered in Dubai is construction management.

Michigan State opened its Dubai campus in August. It has only about fifty students now, but the university says it has received about ninety applications for admission this fall. We'll talk more about foreign campuses of American universities next week.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. Our series is online at www.unsv.com. I'm Bob Doughty.

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