US colleges see rise in foreign postgraduates

August 26, 2010

Offers of admission from US graduate schools have risen for international students while falling for their domestic counterparts, figures from their Washington DC-based umbrella group reveal.

The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) found that overall, applications from international students rose by 9 per cent in 2010, reversing a trend of slowing growth.

In particular, there was a 16 per cent increase in offers to students from China and a 10 per cent rise to students from the Middle East and Turkey.

Conversely, offers to students from India and South Korea fell by 4 per cent and 7 per cent respectively, although this marked a recovery from the 14 per cent fall recorded for both countries in 2009.

Applications to graduate schools from domestic students rose by the same percentage as those from international students: however, despite this rise, offers to US students fell by 1 per cent.

The growth in applications was not universal: a third of respondents reported lower levels of applications in 2010 despite overall figures being at their highest level since 2003. Growth was shown to be strongest at institutions that already had large numbers of international students.

Nathan Bell, director of research and policy at the CGS, said that the decline in the admission rate for domestic students followed a 6 per cent increase the year before.

"Offers of admission have therefore basically held steady after large enrolment growth," he said.

He also pointed to statistics on the ratio of applications to offers, which currently stands at roughly 3:1 for domestic students and 4:1 for their international peers.

At present, 16 per cent of all graduate students in the US are from overseas, and Mr Bell said that graduate programmes "have been, and continue to be, overwhelmingly populated by domestic students".

Debra W. Stewart, president of the CGS, said that the increase in applications from overseas students was welcome as it "shows that US graduate schools remain attractive" in comparison with their international rivals.

Mr Bell agreed, adding that international students were particularly important in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

But he said that this should not put off home-grown students from applying.

"Domestic students still have a much better chance of being admitted to US graduate schools than their international counterparts," he said.

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