The greatest challenges for international students can be a combination of paying for college and overcoming language barriers.
"A lot of them do come ready to get into the classroom and get going,'' Atebe said. "We have some students who are very good with the English language, but funding may be a bit of a problem. We have students who have the funding and everything, but they do need to work on their English before they actually get going into an academic program.''
WVU hopes to eventually increase its share of international students to at least 2,500 in the next five years.
"If we can increase the (foreign-born) population by 2 to 3 percent on a yearly basis, we may be on track to getting there quickly,'' Atebe said. "But it's not something that we take lightly because it's obviously a lot of work getting the students here and making sure we have the resources to support them.''
Of the state's foreign-born enrollment, students from Saudi Arabia and China each comprise 15 percent of the total, followed by India at 11 percent.
The study also showed the number of students from West Virginia studying abroad rose 27 percent to 1,284 in the 2010-11 school year, the latest year available.
The 2012 Open Doors report found the number of international students at U.S. colleges and universities rose 6 percent to a record 764,495 in 2011-12. Enrollments from China increased 23 percent to 194,029.
Institutions in California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts and Illinois were the top five choices for international students. Nearly 22 percent of international students chose business and management as their field of study, followed by engineering at 18.5 percent, and math and computer science at 9.3 percent.