CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — Coastal Carolina University (CCU) is on the lookout for more international students.

CCU teamed up with the University of South Carolina as well as the College of Charleston to form a new consortium of institutions called Study South Carolina. The organization is also backed by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the South Carolina Association of International Educators.

Study South Carolina aims to attract more prospective international students to South Carolina.

Over 200 international students from more than 50 countries are currently enrolled at Coastal Carolina University, according to a news release.

Leisha DeRiso is the director of international recruitment and admissions at Coastal. She said Study South Carolina will help the university reach more students and families.

“[Coastal Carolina] obviously [recruits] internationally, but we can only go so many places,” DeRiso said. “We only have a small team. With Study South Carolina, we have members of the organization talking about all of the universities all the time.”

The idea for the consortium was developed last year. DeRiso worked with Tina MacDonald of the College of Charleston — who currently serves as the organization’s president — as well as UofSC’s Director of International Recruitment and Admissions Frank Mcclary to develop the group.

Tina MacDonald moved to South Carolina from Boston. She said she immediately noticed something about schools in South Carolina that host international students.

“[South Carolina schools] offer a distinct, high-quality student experience that international students would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the country,” MacDonald said in a statement. “Our state’s history, climate, landscape, and international trade and commerce are not only unrivaled, but accessible to international students.”

DeRiso said Study South Carolina will showcase the best of The Palmetto State to prospective students from around the world.

“This brings attention and awareness to the international community: the students and families,” DeRiso said. “And then it brings attention to what our state has to offer.”

Frank Mcclary pointed to pandemic-related budget cuts at some institutions as a challenge for the group in its efforts to recruit other member schools.

“How do we come up with the funding?” Mcclary asked. “How do we go out and ask folks [to] become members when so many institutions we’re dealing with have budget cuts and restraints?”

Despite that, the trio of CCU, UofSC, and CofC found 10 other educational institutions to join them in the consortium.

Mcclary said he expects the consortium will grow once other institutions begin seeing the benefits of membership, adding that growth will give the group more visibility.

“The more institutions we can bring together in the state of South Carolina, we think that the larger the voice we are going to have as an organization in terms of reaching out to the people we can,” Mcclary said.

More than 6,500 international students were enrolled in programs across South Carolina last year, a news release said.

DeRiso said international students also boost the local economies and highlighted the relationship between Coastal students from abroad and area businesses.

“Myrtle Beach does have a lot of international visitors during the summer months and tourist season, but [Study South Carolina] will bring those same visitors here year round and they’ll be living in the community — spending money in the community,” DeRiso said.

MacDonald said the consortium has already met with education leaders from around the globe.

“So far, Study South Carolina has met with foreign educational partners, agents, and diplomats in Africa, Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Indo-Pacific region via virtual events hosted by the U.S. Commercial Service,” MacDonald said.

Schools participating in Study South Carolina:

  • Ashley Hall
  • Charleston Southern University
  • Coastal Carolina University
  • College of Charleston
  • Furman University
  • Lander University
  • University of South Carolina — Columbia
  • Winthrop University
  • Anderson University
  • Ben Lippen School
  • Bob Jones University
  • Trident Technical College
  • Greenville Technical College