Chi­nese stu­dents ap­ply­ing less to US grad schools

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By JACK FREIFELDER in New York jack­freifelder@chi­nadai­lyusa. com

The num­ber of Chi­nese stu­dents ap­ply­ing to US grad­u­ate schools dropped by 2 per­cent in 2015, the third con­sec­u­tive year of a de­cline in ap­pli­ca­tions, ac­cord­ing to the Coun­cil of Grad­u­ate Schools (CGS).

US grad­u­ate schools re­ceived 676,484 ap­pli­ca­tions from abroad this year, a 2 per­cent in­crease over last year, ac­cord­ing to pre­lim­i­nary data from the CGS’ an­nual re­port re­leased on Tues­day, with two-thirds of the ap­pli­cants from China or In­dia.

De­spite the 2 per­cent de­cline, China re­mains the largest source of stu­dents for grad­u­ate pro­grams in the US with 39 per­cent or roughly 264,000 ap­pli­ca­tions this year. Be­fore the three straight years of declines, the CGS had re­ported seven straight years of dou­ble-digit gains in the num­ber of ap­pli­ca­tions from China.

In­dia ac­counted for the sec­ond- largest num­ber of ap­pli­ca­tions, 192,000, a 12 per­cent in­crease. South Korea rounded out the top three with 4 per­cent of the to­tal num­ber of ap­pli­ca­tions.

“It’s a con­cern for U. S. in­sti­tu­tions,” Jeff Al­lum, di­rec­tor of re­search and pol­icy anal­y­sis at the CGS, said about the de­cline in ap­pli­ca­tions from China. “China’s a source for one-third of all in­ter­na­tional grad­u­ate stu­dents com­ing here, and clearly the com­pe­ti­tion for China’s top tal­ent is heat­ing up,” he told the Wall Street Jour­nal.

Ju­lia Kent, di­rec­tor of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Ad­vance­ment and Best Prac­tices with the CGS, wrote in an email to China Daily that many coun­tries are aware that China has been in­vest­ing “a great deal” in its do­mes­tic grad­u­ate ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in re­cent years.

“The ex­pan­sion of pro­grams in China may partly ex­plain why Chi­nese stu­dents have greater in­cen­tive to pur­sue grad­u­ate de­grees at home,” Kent wrote. “How­ever, as global com­pe­ti­tion for grad­u­ate stu­dents in­creases, we have seen US univer­si­ties be­com­ing more in­no­va­tive in their ef­forts to re­cruit top tal­ent.

“US grad­u­ate pro­grams are still rec­og­nized in­ter­na­tion­ally for their ex­cel­lence, as the over­all in­crease in ap­pli­ca­tions would sug­gest,” she wrote. But “some univer­si­ties are in­creas­ingly us­ing ‘vir­tual’ meth­ods of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with prospec­tive stu­dents in ad­di­tion to con­duct­ing re­cruit­ing fairs abroad.”

Philip Alt­bach, the found­ing di­rec­tor of Bos­ton Col­lege’s Cen­ter for In­ter­na­tional Higher Ed­u­ca­tion, said some US schools do not have the same level of name recog­ni­tion in China, which may be in­flu­enc­ing some Chi­nese stu­dents’ de­ci­sions about choos­ing com­pa­ra­ble al­ter­na­tives closer to home.

“The pre­mium on a for­eign de­gree that’s not a gold­plated, name-brand school, is less than it once was,” Alt­bach told the Jour­nal.

Last week, China’s VicePremier Liu Yan­dong said that she would like to see more Amer­i­can stu­dents study­ing in China.

“Right now, there’s a deep im­bal­ance, and we hope that there will be more Amer­i­can stu­dents in China,” she said dur­ing a ple­nary ses­sion of the China-US High-Level Con­sul­ta­tion on Peo­ple-toPeo­ple Ex­change (CPE) on June 24 in Washington.

There are nearly 275,000 Chi­nese stu­dents study­ing at US col­lege and univer­si­ties, whereas only about 15,000 Amer­i­can stu­dents are pur­su­ing an ed­u­ca­tion in China, ac­cord­ing to data from the In­sti­tute for In­ter­na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion (IIE), a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that com­piles data on in­ter­na­tional stu­dents.

The to­tal num­ber of ap­pli­ca­tions to US grad­u­ate schools in 2015 by in­ter­na­tional stu­dents marked the 10th straight year of gains, CGS data showed.

The CGS In­ter­na­tional Grad­u­ate Ad­mis­sions Sur­vey has been con­ducted an­nu­ally since 2004. Pre­lim­i­nary data for the 2015 came from 377 schools, and the fi­nal fig­ures will be re­ported in late 2015.

CGS is a group of more than 500 col­leges and univer­si­ties en­gaged in grad­u­ate ed­u­ca­tion in the US and Canada.

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