An overlooked development is that Indian student enrollment at U.S. graduate schools has not been growing over the past four years. At the same time, Chinese student enrollment has been skyrocketing. This is the conclusion of the latest survey of U.S. graduate school programs by the Council of Graduate Schools. (Find the survey here.)
Nathan Bell, director of research and policy analysis at the Council of Graduate Schools, authored the report. Bell found, “Offers of admission to prospective graduate students from China increased 21% in 2011 following a 15% gain in 2010 and a 17% gain in 2009; this is the sixth consecutive year of double-digit growth. Offers of admission to prospective graduate students from the Middle East & Turkey increased 16% in 2011 following a 10% gain in 2010 and a 14% gain in 2009. Offers of admission to prospective graduate students from India rose 2% in 2011, the first increase to occur for students from India since 2007. This year’s 2% increase follows a 5% decline in 2010 and a 14% drop in 2009. Offers of admission to prospective graduate students from South Korea fell 2% in 2011, marking the fifth consecutive year of declines. The most recent declines for South Korea were a 7% decrease in 2010 and a 14% drop in 2009.”
Indian Student Graduate Admission Falling
However, the 2 percent rise in first-time graduate enrollment in the U.S. by Indian students from 2010 to 2011 India masked a longer-term trend. From 2007 to 2008, Indian student enrollment fell by 2 percent. From 2008 to 2009, first-time graduate enrollment from India fell again by 16 percent. Then, from 2009 to 2010, Indian student first-time graduate enrollment declined by 3 percent. Finally, from 2010 to 2011, it increased by 3 percent.
Change in Indian Student First-Time Graduate Enrollment in U.S.
2007 to 2008 -2%
2008 to 2009 -16%
2009 to 2010 -3%
2010 to 2011 +3%
Chinese Student Graduate Admission Rising
At the same time Indian student enrollment at U.S. graduate schools has been falling (or at least growing little in 2010 to 2011), Chinese student enrollment has increased significantly. From 2007 to 2008, Chinese graduate student enrollment in the United States rose by 14 percent. From 2008 to 2009, first-time graduate enrollment from China increased by 16 percent. From 2009 to 2010, Chinese student first-time graduate enrollment rose by 20 percent. And for 2010 to 2011 it rose again, by 21 percent.
Change in Chinese Student First-Time Graduate Enrollment in U.S.
2007 to 2008 +14%
2008 to 2009 +16%
2009 to 2010 +20%
2010 to 2011 +21%
This survey of major U.S. graduate school program does not include responses from all programs. However, it is useful as a way to evaluate trends, particularly in technical fields. The survey notes, “The majority (63%) of all international graduate students at U.S. institutions are enrolled in one of three broad fields: engineering, physical & earth sciences (which includes mathematics and computer science), and business. Life sciences and social sciences & psychology also account for large numbers of international graduate students at U.S. institutions.”
The survey does not offer an opinion as to why Chinese student first-time enrollment at U.S. graduate schools has increased at the same time that Indian student enrollment has declined. It will take further examination to know if the reason is additional recruitment efforts by U.S. universities in China, economic trends in India and China, U.S. immigration policies, or other factors. Whatever the reason, a continuation of this trend could potentially have a major impact on future immigration patterns among employment-based immigrants to the United States.