India drives graduate enrolment in US

November 06, 2013

A 10 per cent increase in first-time enrolment of international graduate students in the US has been driven by a 40 per cent surge of Indian students, according to a report released by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS).



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In Phase III of the 2013 CGS International Graduate Admissions Survey the organisation focusses on final offers of admission and enrolment. The survey, completed by 285 institutions, reveals a 10 per cent growth in first-time enrolments, adding to increases of eight per cent in each of the last two years.

The increase in admissions comes against a previously reported slowing momentum in actual applications. CGS President Debra W. Stewart said, “There is no doubt that international student are eager to take advantage of the extraordinary quality of US graduate institutions. The continued growth in first-time enrolment is a sign that decreasing applications have not yet damaged the strong pipeline of international graduate students.”

The sudden increase of 40 per cent in first-time enrolment of students from India follows modest rises of only one per cent in 2012 and two per cent in 2011. First-time enrolments from Brazil increased by 17 per cent, possibly fuelled by the country’s Science Without Borders scholarship programme.

While China remains the largest source market – constituting 34 per cent of all international graduate students – growth in first-time enrolments from this market slowed to five per cent, ending seven years of double-digit growth. Meanwhile, the largest decrease was from Korea, 12 per cent down on 2012.

Stewart said it would be important for institutions to monitor enrolment trends and not rely on any particular markets. “While the substantial increase in first-time enrolments of Indian students is positive, the fluctuation in Indian enrolment in recent years makes it difficult to confirm a definite trend. Taken with slowed growth in first-time enrolments from China, and the persistent declines in first-time enrolments of Korean students, I don’t think we can count on any single country to sustain the strong participation of international students that US graduate schools have enjoyed in the past.”

In terms of subject areas, the largest gains were in physical and earth sciences (18 per cent) and engineering (17). The US is considering enhanced post-study work rights for international graduates in the STEM fields. All four major regions of the US experienced rises in first-time enrolments, and both public and private institutions had growth; Master’s-focused institutions had a 41 per cent increase.

Total graduate enrolment of international students rose seven per cent between 2012 and 2013, the eighth consecutive year of growth. Respondents to the survey reported that 220,317 international students were enrolled in graduate programmes in 2013.

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