Surge From India

First-time international graduate enrollment is up 10 percent, largely due to students from India.

November 5, 2013

First-time international graduate enrollment is up 10 percent this fall, largely due to a substantial increase from India, according to a report being released today by the Council of Graduate Schools.

The 10 percent increase over all follows two years in which the gains were 8 percent, and one year at 3 percent. The first-year figure is key to many universities that rely on international graduate students because the long duration of many graduate programs means that many of those who start will be enrolled for a number of years.

By far the most dramatic change this year is a 40 percent increase in new graduate enrollments from India, which have been relatively stable (up or down a few percentage points) in recent years. That gain compensates for a much smaller increase this year from China (although those enrollments are also still going up). The table that follows shows some of the fluctuations. The Council of Graduate Schools has started breakdowns for some countries only in the last two years, which is why the figures are missing before that.

Change in First-Time International Graduate Enrollment, by Country

Country 2009 to 2010 2010 to 2011 2011 to 2012 2012 to 2013
Brazil n/a n/a +14% +17%
Canada n/a n/a +4% +3%
China +20% +21% +22% +5%
India -3% +2% +1% +40%
Mexico n/a n/a +5% -2%
South Korea -3% +0% -2% -12%
Taiwan n/a n/a -2% -8%

The enrollment gains were reassuring to council officials in part because this year saw a decline in the growth of international graduate applications -- to 2 percent, down from 9 percent the prior year, and 11 percent the prior year.

That slowdown led some to fear that graduate programs might have to dig deeper into their pools to meet enrollment targets. Debra W. Stewart, president of the council, said in a statement that "the continued growth in first-time enrollment is a sign that decreasing applications have not yet damaged the strong pipeline of international graduate students."

By field of study, the new data show growth in new international graduate students for every disciplinary area except the life sciences. The biggest gains this year were in physical sciences and engineering.

Change in First-Time International Graduate Enrollment, by Field

Field 2009 to 2010 2010 to 2011 2011 to 2012 2012 to 2013
Arts and humanities +5% +5% +5% +9%
Business +2% +9% +15% +6%
Education -7% +12% +8% +3%
Engineering +3% +6% +12% +17%
Life sciences +0% +1% +1% -3%
Physical sciences +9% +12% +4% +18%
Social sciences +4% +2% +9% +1%


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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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