Overseas students help keep postgraduate numbers stable in US

A rise in international postgraduate enrolments in the US has helped overall recruitment in the country to keep rising, a report has found

September 22, 2014

According to the Council of Graduate Schools’ annual report on trends in US graduate enrollment, there was a 1 per cent increase overall in first-time graduate school enrolments between autumn 2012 and autumn 2013, despite a 0.9 per cent decrease in the number for US citizens signing up.

This decrease was offset by an increase of 11.5 per cent in the first-time enrolment of “temporary residents”. Last year’s report revealed increases of 0.6 per cent and 8 per cent for domestic and international students respectively.

Suzanne T. Ortega, CGS president, said that the strong growth in enrolments of international students was an encouraging trend. “International students are making vital contributions to graduate education and research,” she said.

“Welcoming more of the world’s top talent will help our economy, especially if we allow more international graduates to stay and work in the US after completing their degrees.”

Overall, 17.6 per cent of all first-time enrolees were in business disciplines, 17.4 per cent were in education and 12.9 per cent were in health sciences. In contrast, 2.6 per cent were in physical and earth sciences, 4.8 per cent were in biological and agricultural sciences and 6.2 per cent were in mathematics and computer sciences.

Despite the gains in new graduate students, total graduate enrolment fell by 0.2 per cent to about 1.7 million between 2012 and 2013, following on from a 2.3 per cent decline in the previous year, the report says.

Dr Ortega said that graduate enrolments were increasingly important to US economic competitiveness.

“People with graduate degrees are driving growth and innovation in our economy, and graduate-level skills are in higher demand every year,” she said.

“However, enrolments are not keeping pace with the projected growth in jobs requiring advanced degrees. We can’t put more qualified American workers into these high-level jobs until we create more opportunities for them to earn graduate degrees.”

To meet the needs of the economy, she said, the US needed to “invest in graduate education and better support the students who enrol in master’s and PhD programmes with more grants and fellowships to reduce their reliance on loans”.


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