Bridgewater College Welcomes Record Number of New International Students, Boasts Highest Population on Campus in Three Decades

A student looks into the camera pointing upwards with yellow glitter falling off their hand.

A record-breaking number of new students to Bridgewater College are from across the globe—more than 6% of incoming students for the 2023-24 academic year—the College’s highest international student population for a new class in school history.

Bridgewater’s first-year international student population has continued to climb since the COVID-19 pandemic stymied international enrollment in 2020, reaching a five-year peak in 2022 with 2.8% of the entering class holding an international student visa. At 6% in 2023, Bridgewater’s new international undergraduate student enrollment has grown 1,100% in the last three years.

The 28 new international students this fall will bring Bridgewater’s total international student population to 48. This is the College’s highest international student population on campus in three decades.

Among those in the new class is Safalta Shrestha, a first-year student from Nepal double majoring in psychology and English. Shrestha chose psychology for her love of helping others and English for her love of literature. After graduating from BC in 2027, she hopes to pursue a master’s degree and work as a psychologist.

“I am having an amazing experience at BC. I love the people here. Everyone has been supportive and kind. The resources are also great,” Shrestha said.

Nepal is one of the top countries sending students to Bridgewater this fall, as well as Ghana, Palestine, Spain and Ethiopia.

In spring 2023, Bridgewater College began a new partnership with Shorelight to broaden global access to BC’s undergraduate programs for international students. Shorelight’s personalized programs support the recruitment and success of international students at Bridgewater, as well as elevate the global presence of the College.

International students also enroll in the College’s graduate programs, including Helen Liu M’24 from Hamilton, New Zealand. After a Google search of the top human resources programs in the U.S., Liu found Bridgewater College’s master of science in human resource management program (MSHRM).

“I like the program as it focuses on HR analytics and lecturers have practical HR work experience, which means students do not just study theoretical aspects but also apply what they learn in a real workplace,” Liu said.

Although the MSHRM program at BC is offered in a hyflex model, meaning students may complete coursework either in person or online, Liu relocated to the U.S. with her two children to attend classes in person.

“It is very exciting for both my children and me,” she said. “Bridgewater is similar to Hamilton in some ways. People here are friendly, often waving to us when we walk around the community.”

After graduating from BC with her master’s degree, Liu hopes to pursue an HR analytics role in the engineering or manufacturing industry. Her past work experiences have all been HR-related.

“My experience at BC so far has exceeded my expectations. Lecturers really walk the talk. They help us develop our soft skills, such as gaining more confidence to engage in difficult conversations with the management team, and provide us with a lot of opportunities to practice communication skills and refine our thought process before starting a conversation, all of which are essential for an HR professional,” Liu said.

By Logan Bogert