International postgraduate enrolment slips in US

‘Current policy climate’ may be a ‘contributing factor’, says Council of Graduate Schools

October 3, 2018
Going down

The number of international students enrolling in US postgraduate programmes for the first time has declined, according to new figures.

A report by the Council of Graduate Schools and Graduate Record Examinations shows that first-time enrolment of international graduate students decreased by 3.7 per cent between autumn 2016 and autumn 2017.

There were also proportionally fewer overseas students comprising first-time graduate enrolment in autumn 2017 compared with previous years: international students accounted for 20.3 per cent of first-time graduate students last year, down from 21.1 per cent in autumn 2016 and 22 per cent in autumn 2015.

CGS president Suzanne Ortega said that, while it was difficult to pinpoint the reason for the “worrisome” year-on-year drop, the “current policy climate around US visas and immigration may be a contributing factor”.

The study notes that selective research-intensive universities were least affected by the volatility of international students. Meanwhile, despite the overall decline, the five-year average annual rate of change in first-time enrolment of international graduate students is still up 4.7 per cent.

The report, Graduate Enrolment and Degrees: 2007-2017, is based on a survey of 619 US graduate schools. It comes after a study published in January this year that found that applications from prospective overseas graduate students declined by 3 per cent between autumn 2016 and autumn 2017.

The new data also show that first-time enrolment of domestic graduate students increased by 1.1 per cent between 2016 and 2017, down from a 3.2 per cent rise the previous year.

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