By 2005, the lack of winter break housing at Duke University was becoming a significant problem. According to the daily student paper, between 30 and 50 international students were left effectively homeless for the month-long vacation.

Since then, Duke begrudgingly made more housing available. But the application for winter break accommodations doesn’t look particularly welcoming: “If you do not have anywhere else to go during the winter break, signing up for winter break housing is an option for you.” It goes on to explain that “there will be no TV” and an extra fee will be applied to the student’s account.

Merry Christmas, international students!

Duke’s policy is actually typical of most colleges. Increasingly, universities are trying to boost their international student numbers — but they are reluctant to make room in their budgets for the added expenses of accommodating the students’ special needs.

But a countervailing trend is emerging — especially among smaller institutions — to make sure that international students don’t feel booted for the holidays. “We try to work individually with students,” says Kati Csoman, dean of international programs at Juniata College. “We work on identifying specific students ahead of time that may not go home because of cost or distance, and we match them with families we know can provide housing.”

They plan to match over 40 international students with local families this year.