The Bowdoin admissions website poses a rhetorical question—"Does Bowdoin welcome international students?"—and answers it: "Absolutely!" But international students, unlike their American counterparts, are mostly only "welcome" if they can pay up.

Though Bowdoin has practiced "need-blind" admissions for domestic students for over a decade, "admission for non-U.S. Citizens," according to The College Catalogue, "may take a family's financial resources into consideration."

Transfer and waitlist students also fall into this category.

In the past three years the College has matriculated approximately 30 international students each fall.

Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Scott Meiklejohn estimated that "year-to-year we can afford to admit 10 or 12 financially-needy international students and we will typically get half of those or so to enroll."

Meiklejohn detailed how admissions takes a small risk by admitting more foreign students than can be accommodated, but that, based on information from previous years, it has pretty good sense of how many of those students will matriculate. In the end, each class has space for only five or six students who are both international and needy.

Though the admissions office was unable to provide exact statistics on short notice, these estimations would imply that only 16 to 20 percent of matriculated international students receive aid. More than double this amount, or 46.8 percent of the Class of 2014 overall, received financial aid.

Meiklejohn spoke of the College's decision "to devote more of those resources to U.S. students."

"We have limited financial aid for international students," he said. "We get lots of great applicants who we would love to admit but we have to take a step of screening through all of the international applicants who have applied for aid as a group. And then narrowing down to a fairly small number of financially needy international students who we can admit."

"We would love to be looking at those students in the same way we do domestic students but it's a very, very, very expensive decision," Meiklejohn added.

He called the process "painful...But it is, that's, reality." He pointed out that the situation is "very common...with a handful of exceptions at the very most highly endowed schools."

Others, however, think that increasing the number of international students should be made more of a priority.

Professor of the Humanities in Religion & Asian Studies John C. Holt, who is on sabbatical this year, has been vocal about this longstanding issue.

"It's a question of who we want to be. Do we want to be more than a regionally-significant college, more than a national college?" he asked in an e-mail to the Orient. "Or do we want to be internationally significant? Is learning or knowledge better served when the boundaries of national identity are lifted at least just a little?"

"It's a question of what kind of diversity we want within the Bowdoin community, not diversity simply in the social terms of ethnicity, race or class, but diversity in terms of intellectual perspectives and 'worldviews,'" he wrote.

Junior Tawanda Pasirayi from Harare, Zimbabwe, though he is pleased with his Bowdoin experience, also expressed some dissatisfaction with the College's international approach.

"I look at the African population specifically...and I can safely say that the school hasn't been doing a good job in recruiting African students because there are only a handful of us," he said.

Financial aid is crucial to many international applicants. Pasirayi found out about Bowdoin through his city's United States Educational Advising Center, run by the American embassy. The choice to come to Bowdoin, he said, was "mostly...a case of financial aid. So any school which was willing to offer the part I couldn't meet would be fine."

Meiklejohn stressed the difficulty of allocating limited aid dollars to international students, who tend to come from more modest backgrounds, when Bowdoin has many other commitments to fulfill, such as that to Maine students.

The Class of 2014, for instance, matriculated twice as many students from Maine (55) as it did students from everywhere outside the U.S. (27)

And Meiklejohn believes that there may be more than one way to bring the world to Bowdoin. Some ideas he cited included emphasizing the experiences of U.S. citizens who have gone to high school abroad and of American students who come from international households, as well as hiring a more international faculty, and encouraging study-abroad students to share their new perspective once back on campus.

"It's the non-US passport number that gets published a lot, but I think there's this other international diversity that's important to recognize."