MIAMI — Northeastern Oklahoma A&M international student coordinator Elizabeth Flees sees a memorandum of understanding that was signed by presidents of NEO and Missouri Southern State University as a big plus.

“A lot of our students do come here on a scholarship, mainly for sports, choir or band, but we are starting to see more international students coming just to study,” Flees said. “They really like coming to NEO because it is an affordable option for them and it gives them an opportunity to travel and see the world while they get an education.

“With this memorandum, these students will be able to transfer on to a four-year institution and continue to get those same rewards, that same education, that same reasonable cost — and still be able to see be able to experience everything that the United States has to offers.”

Under the terms of the agreement, signed Thursday, Nov. 19, by NEO A&M president Dr. Kyle Stafford and his counterpart at Missouri Southern, Dr. Dean Van Galen, those students who have completed work on an associate’s degrees to transfer to MSSU without losing credits for the in-state tuition rate, plus 10 percent.

There are 29 international students from 15 countries enrolled here. That number is down from in the past because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, Flees said, noting that there usually are around 50.

Fleas said a lot of NEO students already transfer to Southern.

“It’s very seamless for us and our students,” she said.

This isn’t the first time the two schools have entered in MOUs for transfers in bachelor’s degree programs.

As recently as March, NEO and Southern signed an honors program transfer agreement.

“This memorandum of understanding we are signing today furthers that partnership, especially around enabling international students who are from NEO to transfer seamlessly at a very reasonable price in terms of tuition to Missouri Southern State University,” Van Galen said.

“We are very excited about this,” Stafford said. We are very fortunate to have more than 15 countries represented here on the NEO campus and are very pleased to have this pathway. The key word I heard was we want to be ‘seamless’ as we work from associate’s degrees to bachelor’s degrees.”

“I know NEO, like Missouri Southern, is extremely student-centered,” Van Galen said. “If you look around this region, it truly does function as a region despite the state boundaries in terms of the economy, in terms of health care, in terms of services and it also should be that way in terms of serving students.”