THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Tucson, Arizona | Published: http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/101301
The number of new international graduate students enrolling in American
universities appears to have rebounded slightly this fall after three years of
The figure rose 1 percent compared to a year ago, the Council of Graduate
Schools says in a new report. Following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the numbers
fell 8 percent in 2002, 10 percent in 2003, and 3 percent in 2004.
"That's a positive sign. But we're certainly not rebounded to the pre-2002
levels," said Heath Brown, director of research and policy analysis at the
Experts blamed the sudden drop in interest among international students in
attending American graduate programs after the 2001-02 school year on a range of
factors, from visa delays to anti-Americanism to sharper competition from
universities in other countries.
The trend alarmed both university administrators and foreign policy-makers
because universities depend on foreign students for teaching and research -
especially in the sciences. The also were concerned because educating
international students, who then return home with a positive, firsthand
experience of America, is seen as an important foreign policy tool.
Educators say the State and Homeland Security departments have streamlined visa
approvals, and many universities have stepped up recruiting, which has at least
leveled off the decline.
The survey, being officially released today, represents only an initial report,
and complete figures will not be available until next year. But the 125
universities that responded represent most of the largest graduate programs.
Enrollment of students from China and India - the two largest sources of
American students overall - rose 3 percent each. Enrollment from Middle Eastern
countries rose 11 percent, though the numbers from that region are still
Jean Morrison, associate vice provost for graduate programs at the University of
Southern California, which has the most international students of any American
university, said international graduate enrollment there fell from 4,097 to
4,040 this year - though it did not decline as sharply in previous years as at
Competition from universities in Europe, Asia and Australia has never been
fiercer, she added.
"I don't think 'out of the woods' is at all accurate," Morrison said. "It is
still a very acute problem, and I think it is particularly acute in science and
About 1.5 million graduate students were enrolled in American universities last
year, according to the graduate council, of whom about 225,000 came from other