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US: India offsets decline in Chinese graduate enrolments

Diversity is on the rise among international graduate students in the US as the third phase of the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS)’s International Graduate Admissions survey shows first time enrolments have risen for the fifth consecutive year despite a drop in Chinese students for the first time in a decade.

As a region, the Middle East shows the most promise for sustainable growth, up 8% this year after rises of 10% and 18% over the past two years

The -1% decline in Chinese enrolments was offset by double digit growth in Indian students (27%) for the second year in a row. Brazil also saw a boom in enrolments, up 94% compared to 24% in 2013, however represents a small volume of student numbers.

And for the first time,  the survey reveals growth in students studying business has slowed to just 2% growth after peaking at 15% in 2012.

“This is the second consecutive year of double digit growth in first time enrolment students from India so we think it’s something real”

After the sudden appearance of 40% growth from Indian students in 2013, CGS was cautious to call the increase an upward trend however the report’s author Jeff Allum said this year’s results confirm a shift in graduate enrolments.

“This is the second consecutive year of double digit growth in first time enrolment students from India so we think it’s something real. Whether or not it’s sustainable on the other hand we’re not sure,” he told The PIE News.

“First time enrolments from students in India has tended fluctuate, so we’re not sure if these are sustainable numbers but there’s something going on.”

Despite the stagnation of growth in Chinese enrolments, Chinese students continue to account for the largest proportion of graduate students in the US. However, enrolments increased across the board in small source countries indicting graduate programmes are diversifying beyond China and India.

As a region, the Middle East shows the most promise for sustainable growth, up 8% this year after rises of 10% and 18% over the past two years. Mexican enrolments also rose 8% this year after falling 2% in 2013.

Taiwanese and South Korean enrolments meanwhile fell for the third year in a row, down 8% and 7% respectively.

Based on responses from 308 universities representing about 60% of total graduate degree awarding bodies in the US, there were 72,970 first time enrolments this year, up 8% on last year showing the sector continues to expand.

“Usually the students are drawn to graduate school because they see jobs, they see a future in a particular type of technology or a particular field so first time enrolments show the direction of growth,” commented Allum.

Traditionally a big draw for international students, business programmes, have seen a wane in growth

Traditionally a big draw for international students, business programmes, have seen a wane in growth in this year’s results while enrolments in other popular fields continue to surge.

Physical & Earth Science enrolments increased 20% and Engineering 11%. Art & Humanities programmes also saw another boost in enrolments, up 3% this year after a 9% increase in 2013.

Allum reasoned the downward trend for first time MBA enrolments could be due to improved offerings in countries of origin.  “We know that schools overseas, China in particular and India, are establishing more of an infrastructure in gradate programmes,” he said. “Maybe their business schools are becoming more competitive and more attractive but we’re not sure of the reason yet.

“It’s not to say that business schools in the US aren’t still attractive, they’re just not growing at the rate they used to be,” he addded.

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