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Friday, July 03, 2015

Concern at low share of foreign students taking PhDs

"Applications from foreign students to US graduate programmes increased 2% to a record 676,484 this year, driven primarily by a 12% upswing in numbers from India but tempered by a 2% drop from China, a preliminary report says." writes University World News.


Half of all international applications were for programmes in the key STEM fields of engineering, mathematics and computer science, all of which enjoyed an increase in applications, says the report, released this week by the non-profit Council of Graduate Schools in Washington, DC.

But nearly two-thirds were for masters and certificate programmes, rather than PhDs, a surprising finding that "raises a lot more questions than we have answers for at this point", says council president Suzanne Ortega.

The survey, conducted annually since 2004 to give US graduate schools an early peek at autumn enrolment indicators, this year marked the 10th consecutive year of overall increases in applications – a sign, Ortega says, that the United States continues "to be the place that students see as having high quality and high value".

The survey this year for the first time tracks applications based on the level of the degree being pursued, a factor that provides insights into how students expect to pay for their degrees, what kinds of jobs their degrees will prepare them for and whether they intend to stay in the United States after earning their degree. 

Vulnerable to volatility  
Masters level students, for example, typically use personal funds to finance their education, which provides a lucrative revenue stream for US universities but also makes the applicant pool more vulnerable to economic volatility in their home countries.

Doctoral students are more likely to rely on universities and grants for funding, and also are more likely to go on to careers that fuel US innovation and economic growth.

Source: University World News

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