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International Graduate Applications Still Growing at Slow Rates, Says Study


Graduate school applications from international students increased by only 8 percent from 2006 to 2007, after a 12 percent jump last year, reports the Council of Graduate Schools (CSG).

The highest number of applications for fall 2007 came from China and India, with a growth of 17 percent and 6 percent respectively. India’s 6 percent growth was modest considering last year’s growth of 26 percent. Still, India is one of the highest senders of students to the U.S. after China.

Kenneth Redd, the author of the report, says he didn’t want to speculate on the reasons for the decline but adds that the number of applications are still rising but at a slower rate.

“There is competition since other countries are getting better at attracting students,” says Redd. “But even with limits on visas and work permits, it’s important to note that growth rates are increasing, but at a much slower pace.”

Applications are up by just 8 percent in both engineering and physical sciences, compared to the 19 percent and 15 percent growth, respectively, in 2006. In spite of the overall increase over 2006, the number of international applications is still down by 27 percent from 2003 for institutions that have responded to the survey.

CGS president Debra W. Stewart says it is clear that, even at these rates, “it will still take us many years to catch up to where we were before 2001. We are by no means out of the woods yet.”

“While the federal government has taken positive steps to improve visa processing, we must adopt policies that encourage international students to pursue graduate study in the U.S. in order to strengthen our competitiveness and security in the global economy,” Stewart says.

International graduate enrollments were also dependent on place of origin and field of study. For example, applications from India rose by 22 percent at the 10 universities with the largest international graduate enrollments, but fell by 8 percent at the smallest. Applications in business increased 21 percent at the 10 largest universities, but fell by 8 percent at the institutions below the largest 50 in terms of international graduate student enrollment.

The study also showed a growth in applications from the Middle East by 9 percent, although applications from Korea declined 2 percent. There were also declines in certain fields of study, namely business which only increased by 7 percent as compared to a 16 percent growth rate last year. The field of life sciences, humanities and education also went up by 13 percent, 12 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

By Shilpa Banerji


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