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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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