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More Indians choose US to study abroad

Indian students in US
Indian students in US

More Indian students are opting to study in the US graduate schools in 2011 (Image courtersy: 2mm.typepad.com)

Indian students have shown a renewed interest in studying in the US in 2011. This year, American universities have recorded a  7 percent growth in applications from India to US graduate schools after just 1 percent gain in 2010.

China, India and South Korea are the three largest countries of origin for international graduate students in the US, according to a survey by the Council of Graduate Schools in the United States.

However, there’s a slight dip in the number of students from China; applications from China rose by 18 percent, compared to a 20 percent gain in 2010.

The survey includes responses from 230 schools, including 84 percent of the 50 institutions which award the largest number of degrees to international graduate students.

There was a 2 percent increase in applications from South Korean students compared to no growth last year.

The Middle East and Turkey saw an increase of 12percent in 2011 which is lower than the previous year’s growth rate of 20percent.

Overall, the number of applications from prospective international students to US graduate schools increased in 2011 for the sixth consecutive year; the 9percent growth matches the gain in 2010.

While these figures show that the competition to secure admission to a US graduate school has got tougher for Indian students, that’s only part of the picture. Students are favouring popular institutions over lesser knowns. About three-quarters of institutions reported an increase in applications over last year, the remaining institutions reported a decrease, averaging 9percent.

The data show that U.S. graduate schools continue to be highly attractive to international students, says CGS President Debra W. Stewart.

“Yet it would be unwise to take our current position for granted, since international students have a growing number of choices in the global education marketplace.”

What to study abroad

Data for the US graduate schools indicate that traditionally popular fields of study, like engineering and science, are still favourite among international students: engineering and physical and earth sciences saw a 12 percent increase in international applications.

Education increased 9 percent, followed closely by arts and humanities and the life sciences, both at 8 percent.  This year’s 8 percent increase in life sciences is the largest gain in the field since 2007.

Social sciences and psychology saw a smaller increase of 5 percent, compared to an 11 percent increase last year.

However, the surprising figures were registered for business which saw the smallest growth (4 percent), down from last year’s increase of 11 percent.

Which graduate school to choose

As in 2010, growth this year was slightly stronger at institutions that award the largest number of degrees to international students.

This pattern was particularly pronounced for applications from prospective Chinese students:  applications from China surged 26 percent at the 10 largest schools, but grew just 12 percent at those responding schools outside the 100 largest.

A 4 percent decline in international applications occurred in the field of business at the 25 institutions that award the largest numbers of graduate degrees to international students.

This is of particular note because the 100 largest institutions combined experienced only a 1 percent growth on average in international applications in business, compared to a 13 percent gain at the institutions outside the largest 100. Dr. Stewart noted.

“This may be a reflection of the growing competition in high quality graduate business programs worldwide.”

A slight difference emerged between private and public institutions.  Applications increased 11 percent at private, not-for-profit schools, and 9 percent at public graduate schools; last year, the difference in growth was more pronounced (12 percent vs. 7 percent).

Where to study in the US

Applications from international students increased in all regions of the U.S.  The increase was largest in the West (13 percent) and Midwest (10 percent) while the Northeast (8 percent) and the South (7 percent) saw smaller gains.

The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) is an organization of over 500 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada engaged in graduate education, research, and the preparation of candidates for advanced degrees.

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