US Witnesses 39% Decline in First-time International Graduate Enrolment Numbers


Cyril Zachariah
Updated on Mar 01, 2021 11:56 AM IST

One of the top destinations for study, the United States of America has displayed a 39% overall decline in the number of first-time international graduate enrolment numbers, compared to previous years, with the lowest applications from seen India and China.

US Witnesses 39% Decline in First-time International Graduate Enrolment Numbers

As one of the top study abroad destinations in the world, the US has, for the first time, recorded a sharp decline in the number of international graduate student enrolment, as per data gathered from The Council of Graduate Schools.

The data reveals that the international graduate application rates had increased for the Fall 2020 session across different US universities. An overall growth of 3% had been detected between 2019 and 2020 Fall Session. However, between Fall 2020 and Fall 2021, a sharp decline of 39%.

The CGS data reveals that a 43% decline was seen for different Masters programme, while a 26% decline was seen for Doctoral level programmes. However, this rate of decline was witnessed in all different types of institutional types. First-time graduate student enrolment from markets such as India and China were significant, the data revealed.

CGS President Suzanne Ortega stated that the effects of COVID-19, especially the international travel restrictions and health concerns along with the lack of consistency and timely direction regarding the international graduate student visa policy by the Trump Administration, such sharp declines were expected.

Participating in the CGS report that included findings from the Fall 2020 admissions info, a total of 326 universities and colleges were involved, with 69% of the participants being public Universities while 65% of the participants being doctoral universities.

Considering the location wise decline in the number of first-time graduate enrolment, a 47% decline was witnessed in Asia, meanwhile, from Eastern and North African countries, a decline of 36% had been witnessed.

Also Read: Survey: Number of Foreign Scholars in the US Dropped by 9.6% in 2020

China and India, who previously have been the largest market shareholders in the first-time international graduate applications as well as overall enrolments, were among the countries with the sharpest decline in applications. China and India recorded a first-time graduate enrolment of 37% and 66% decline, respectively.

While a decline in the international first-time graduate enrolment was seen in far off countries, Canadaand Mexico were also among the countries that display a decline. First-time international graduate enrolment from Canada was recorded at -5%, meanwhile, a -6% international graduate first-time enrolment was seen from Mexico.

Additional surveys, i.e. the 2020 NAGAP/CGS Survey of Graduate Enrolment Management Professionals and the 2020 CGS International Graduate Admissions Supplemental Survey, were also fielded by The Council of Graduate Schools.

Also Read: Suffolk University's Initiatives to Accommodate International Students

It was revealed that over 80% of the participants highlighted an increase in the number of deferrals from new admitted international graduate students. Moreover, the institutions also revealed that an overall 5% increase in deferments have been witnessed over the past few years.

Similar to the overall international graduate first-time enrolment, the deferrals have been witnessed to be consistent across different degree levels, i.e. masters and doctoral programmes, with 12% and 10% deferrals across the programmes, respectively.

Ortega commented that while the declines are concerning, one of the bigger questions that must be answered is how the deferrals will affect the admission offers as well as the first-time enrolment for the Fall 2021 session, especially with continuing travel restrictions.

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