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US sees a 66% decline in enrolment for first-time Indian graduates

US universities are seeing a sharp decline in their biggest international markets China and India, according to new data published by the Council of Graduate Schools.
BY BrainGain Magazine Staff Writer |   26-02-2021

BrainGain Magazine
Photo by Charlotte May from Pexels

The first-time enrolment at US universities has decreased by 39% in Fall 2020 according to data published by the Council of Graduate Schools. The biggest declines are in the top two markets – China and India. While first-time graduate students from China decreased by 37%, for India it was a whopping 66%.

Suzanne Ortega, President of CGS, said the numbers were alarming - “The first-time international graduate student enrolment decreases are alarming because they undermine the international diversity and vitality of US graduate programs.”

But the fact of decline was not altogether surprising, “Between the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly on health concerns and international travel, and the lack of consistent and timely direction from the Trump administration regarding international graduate student visa policy, we were prepared ...” 

The data was based on a survey of 326 US colleges and universities.

While first-time graduate enrolment from Asia ( -47%), Middle-East & North Africa ( -36%) decreased significantly, other regions like Canada ( -5%) and Mexico (-6%) did not show such a drop. The difference is likely due to more relaxed travel regulations.

Deferrals have also played a major role in the current scenario. More than 80% of the respondents told CGS that international students had deferred their entry. For a majority of these institutions, there was a 5% increase in the number of students who chose to defer.

This has further complicated matters for US universities. According to Suzanne Ortega, “When thinking ahead, one of the biggest lingering questions is how the deferrals will affect offers of admission and first-time enrolment for Fall 2021 and beyond, particularly if there are still travel limitations.”

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