International Student Growth Still Slowing [Inside Higher Education]

By Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Education

International student enrollment at U.S. graduate schools continues to grow, but at slower rates than in recent years, according to new survey results from the Council of Graduate Schools.

“I think what we’re going to need to do is follow this next year and see what happens. It could be a leveling off, or it could be signifying that the numbers are starting to drop,” says Nathan Bell, the report’s principal author and director of research and policy analysis at the Council. “We’ve seen this declining trend and whether it levels at this point or continues is the question.”

Consistent with earlier findings regarding a slowdown in growth of international student applicants and admits this year, the Council’s latest survey found that first-time enrollment of international graduate students increased by 3 percent from 2007-8, compared to 4 percent growth last year and 12 percent the year before. Total international student enrollment increased by 3 percent in 2008, a slowdown from a 7 percent rise last year (growth was 1 percent the year before that). Because many foreign students are in the United States for long programs, first-year enrollments are a better long-term indicator of trends than total enrollment, which includes many students about to finish up and leave.

By country, there were absolute drops in first-time international students from India and South Korea, two of the top three countries of origin for U.S. international students (along with China).

The number of first-time students from India dropped 2 percent in 2008, after an 8 percent rise in 2007, and the number from South Korea fell 4 percent after increasing by 3 percent the year before. Meanwhile, the number of first-time students from China and the Middle East rose by 14 and 8 percent, although these gains still represent slowing growth compared to increases in 2007. [Click here to read the rest of the story.]