The number of Chinese students enrolling in US graduate schools fell for the first time in at least a decade, according to a report from the US Council of Graduate Schools published on Wednesday.
The 1 per cent drop in first-time enrolments of students from China in 2014 “affects a relatively large number of students since Chinese students constitute 33 per cent of total enrolment of international graduate students in the US”, the Council said.
The decline was offset by a large jump in first-time enrolments of students from India, which rose 27 per cent in 2014 on top of a 40 per cent rise in 2013. First-time enrolment of students from Brazil increased 91 per cent this year after a 17 per cent increase in 2013, the report said. Enrolment from South Korea and Taiwan declined 7 per cent and 8 per cent respectively in 2014.
Overall, first-time enrolments of international graduate students rose 8 per cent between 2013 and 2014, and total graduate enrolment rose by the same percentage.
Chinese education experts said the decline in Chinese enrolments, the first since the Council began surveying international student numbers in 2004, may reflect the impact of China’s anti-corruption campaign, which has hit the personal wealth of government officials who previously used ill-gotten gains to finance overseas education.
Employment trends in China are also changing, with overseas graduates increasingly struggling to gain jobs that repay the substantial investment of a foreign education, recruitment experts say.
Beijing has been investing heavily in improving domestic graduate schools in recent years, which also may also be keeping more students at home, according to education experts.
However, Xiong Bingqi, vice-president of the 21st Century Education Research Institute in Beijing, said the decline was the result of global graduate school trends.
“The main reason why fewer Chinese students are enrolled by American universities is the rising threshold for applications and the fact that there are more opportunities offered from other countries such as Australia, and in Europe,” he said. “Scholarships have always been a big issue for postgraduate students but now American schools are cutting scholarships. If schools in other countries offer big scholarships, it would affect the students’ interest in going to the US.”
It is not clear whether the decline in Chinese graduate students will be matched by a drop in undergraduate enrolments. Figures are due out next week from the US Institute of International Education, which will cover foreign students in all US colleges and universities.
根据美国研究生院委员会(US Council of Graduate Schools)周三公布的一份报告，在美国研究生院注册的中国留学生数量出现至少10年来首次下滑。
然而位于北京的21世纪教育研究院(21st Century Education Research Institute)副院长熊丙奇表示，中国留学生数量下滑是全球研究生院（招生政策）趋势的结果。
目前还不清楚，赴美留学的中国本科生数量是否也会出现下滑。美国国际教育研究所(US Institute of International Education)将于下周公布数据，数据将涵盖在美国所有院校就读的外国学生。