Graduate schools in the United States are reporting a nine percent increase in applications from international students this year. The increase is the same as two years ago. Last year's gain was eleven percent.China, Mexico and Brazil showed the biggest increases in applications to enter master's and doctoral programs this fall.Engineering is the top area of study for international students and had the biggest increase in applications. Gains in business and physical and earth sciences were close behind. Life sciences showed no growth in the latest survey by the Council of Graduate Schools. The survey includes the top five countries that send graduate students to the United States, plus Mexico and Brazil. The top five are China, India, South Korea, Taiwan and Canada.Applications from China climbed eighteen percent this year. That was down from last year. India's number increased just two percent. Applications from South Korea and Taiwan decreased by one to two percent.
Applications from Africa were down five percent, while the Middle East and Europe showed growth. Council President Debra Stewart says final results will not be available until the summer.She pointed out that applications do not necessarily convert to enrollment. About forty-seven percent of all international applications to U.S. graduate schools come from students from China. But the share of the applicant pool that actually ends up enrolling in U.S. graduate programs is lower. Ms. Stewart says last fall, for example, twenty-nine percent of all international graduate students were from China. This year is the seventh year of big increases in applications from China, where Ms. Stewart points out that more and more students are finishing college.
There is tremendous growth in the undergraduate population in China. But she also notes that more people apply to graduate school during difficult economic times. "So it certainly is possible," she says, "that these very exceptionally strong numbers could be a reflection of recession experiences in China, as well."George Ofosu from Ghana is working toward a doctorate in political science at the University of California, Los Angeles. He says he was attracted to UCLA's coursework, libraries and other resources, including financial aid he would not have had at home. He says it was an ideal opportunity for him to, one, get training and, two, get some funding to pursue his studies. He calls his experience "really phenomenal."
For VOA Special English, I'm Alex Villarreal.For more stories about studying in the United States, go to voaspecialenglish.com. You also follow us on Facebook and Twitter, find our podcasts on iTunes and watch our captioned videos at the VOA Learning English channel on YouTube. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 12Apr2012)