For the last few years, American graduate schools have been increasingly dependent on the influx of foreign - specifically Chinese - students, whose tuition has been helping to offset declining enrollment numbers in recent years.
The last three years saw a 20 percent annual growth in the number of applicants from China (as well as the number of Chinese students enrolling in the fall). But according to a report from the Council of Graduate Schools, released earlier this week, applications for the fall 2013 semester dropped off 5 percent from the previous year, signaling that fewer Chinese citizens are applying for advanced degrees in areas like business, engineering, and sciences. Seventy-five percent of international students are enrolled in courses in these areas, though Chinese students are particularly drawn to business schools - one in five GMAT test-takers in 2011 was from China.
The drop in the number of Chinese students could have to do with competition from other international students, limited financial aid offers, and visa issues. The federal sequester has made it difficult for many schools to offer long-term financial aid packages. Perhaps in part as a result of this, the overall number of international applications grew by only 2 percent this year, compared to 7 percent growth in 2011-2012 and 11 percent the previous year. In addition to China, the number of applications from South Korea, Taiwan, Canada, Mexico, and Europe also fell, though applications from India increased by 20 percent and those from Brazil increased by 24 percent. But the overall falling level of international enrollment (and tuition) could put many graduate programs in a financial bind.
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