November 8, 2011
A report released this week has found that enrollment of new foreign students at American graduate schools increased by 8 percent in 2011--the largest increase since 2006.
The report from the Council of Graduate schools found that the most growth in new graduate foreign enrollments came from China, with a 21 percent gain. That increase followed gains in previous years of 20 percent, 16 percent and 14 percent, and it marked the sixth year of double-digit growth.
"It's been some time since we've seen gains of this magnitude," noted Nathan E. Bell, director of research and policy analysis at the council, who was quoted by The Chronicle of Higher Education. But he added that "if the growth is all being driven by one country, that's probably not a healthy thing for U.S. graduate schools."
The report was based on responses from 237 of the council's member institutions. It determined that total international student enrollments increased by 2 percent in 2011; last year, the figure was 1 percent. The increases are seen as positive because of increased competition for foreign students from countries like Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.
"International students have always recognized and continue to recognize the quality of U.S. graduate schools," Bell said, as quoted by the Chronicle. Nevertheless, he added, "we can't rest on our laurels. If we want to continue to attract the best and the brightest, it takes work."
Bell did not attribute the gains in foreign graduate enrollment to any one reason in particular. "It's important to remember that there are many factors that could be at play that affect the number of international students coming to U.S. graduate schools," he was quoted as saying by Inside Higher Ed. Those factors, he said, could include "the relative cost of graduate education in the U.S., the current economic situation within the home country, the capacity to provide graduate education within the home country, competition from other countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, etc., that also are recruiting international students, and so on."
The number of students from the Middle East and Turkey increased by 14 percent, and Indian enrollment rose 2 percent. Enrollment from South Korea was flat, but that was viewed as an improvement because in previous years, enrollment had decreased from South Korea.
The disciplines with the most foreign enrollment gains were education and earth sciences, which both had increases of 12 percent. Foreign enrollments in business increased by 9 percent, and by 6 percent in engineering. The smallest gains were in life sciences (1 percent) and the social sciences (2 percent).
Compiled by Yaffa Klugerman
"Findings from the 2011 CGS International Graduate Admissions Survey," cgsnet.org, November 2011, Nathan E. Bell
"New Foreign Grad Enrollment Up 8%," insidehighered.com, November 8, 2011, Scott Jaschik
"U.S. Graduate Schools See Significant Increase in Foreign Enrollments," chronicle.com, November 8, 2011, Beth McMurtrie