First-time enrolments at US graduate schools from international students increased by 11.2% between autumn 2013 and autumn 2014, according to a recent report from the Council of Graduate Schools.
The report, which looks at graduate enrolment and degrees from 2004 to 2014, also found that international students accounted for around two-thirds of the growth in first-time graduate enrolment headcounts over the 10 year period.
The overall total of graduate enrolees was a record high at 479,642, increasing by 3.5% in the year to autumn 2014.
Among this cohort, international student enrolments increased by 9.4%, counteracting the 2.4% decrease from US citizens and permanent residents.
International students also accounted for 21.6% (102,775) of the total first-time graduate enrolees in autumn last year.
Jeff Allum, assistant vice-president, research and policy analysis at CGS and one of the report’s authors, admitted that this increase was higher than he was expecting.
“I think this reflects the fact that employers are increasingly recognising the value and importance of graduate degrees,” he told The PIE News. “And prospective graduate students are responding to that.”
Allum also added that “students from China and India constitute particularly large numbers of international students to US graduate programmes”.
In addition, international students accounted for 24.2% of first-time graduate students at private, non-for-profit institutions that year, compared with 21% at public universities, according to the report.
International students were also more likely to study in STEM fields than US students.
The subject field that saw the biggest increase in first-time enrolments among international students was mathematics and computer sciences, accounting for a 28.1% rise from autumn 2013 to 2014.
Engineering also displayed a first-time enrolment increase of 17% from the year before.
CGS president, Suzanne Ortega, said in a statement that growth in enrolments is important in order to meet the needs of the US economy.
“The increase in overall enrolments is good news, but the disparity between US and international growth is a cause for concern,” she said.
Allum echoed these concerns. “It is pretty clear that the demand for graduate degree holders will increase substantially over the next decade,” he said.
“If graduate enrolment among US citizens and permanent residents does not keep pace, we fear that it will be difficult to meet this demand.”
About Natalie Marsh
Natalie is a journalism graduate from City University London, who spent part of her degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying mass communication. In her spare time, she is often brushing up on her French and Spanish or glued to the news channels.