Foreign Applications To US Graduate Schools Increase

April 9, 2010

grad schoolA new report released this week by the Council of Graduate Schools said that the number of applications from international students to American graduate schools rose 7 percent over last year.

But according to Nathan E. Bell, director of research and policy analysis at the Council of Graduate Schools, the data may not necessarily indicate a rise in enrollments. "In this survey, we're counting applications, pieces of paper," he told The Chronicle of Higher Education, "not actual students who enroll."

This is the fifth year in a row that international applications to graduate schools in the United States have risen, but the numbers are not consistent from all countries. Applications from China rose an impressive 19 percent, but in India and South Korea--where applications dropped last year by 12 percent and 9 percent respectively--applications appear to have merely stabilized. All three countries are the largest sources of overseas students for American institutions.

Bell told Inside Higher Ed that the survey could not determine why students in some countries send more applications than in others. But he added that the numbers from China are not surprising.

"There is a rapid increase in degree production at the undergraduate level in China," he explained, "and there is a capacity issue in which they can't accommodate the numbers of students who want a graduate education."

The findings are somewhat consistent with a report released in November which indicated that international student enrollment at U.S. colleges and universities was at an all-time high, although those numbers referred to the 2008-9 academic year. That study, which was conducted by the Institute of International Education, showed that India sent the most students to the United States to study. But China came in second with just under 15 percent of all international students, marking a dramatic 21 percent increase since the year before.

"International education is domestic economic development," noted Allan E. Goodman, president of the institute, who was quoted in The New York Times regarding the November study. "International students shop at the local Wal-Mart, rent rooms and buy food. Foreign students bring $17.8 billion to this country. A lot of campuses this year are increasing their international recruitment, trying to keep their programs whole by recruiting international students to fill their spaces."

Compiled by Staff


"China is Sending More Students to U.S.," The New York Times, November 16, 2009, Tamar Lewin

"Foreign-Student Applications Rise 7 Percent at American Graduate Schools," The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 6, 2010, Karin Fischer

"International Grad Applications Up," Inside Higher Ed, April 6, 2010, Scott Jaschik

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