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Rise in admission offers to international students at US universities

Being regularly well presented among university rankings, US universities attract an increasing number of international applicants. This has led to an overall increase of 9 % of initial admission offers to international students according to a recently published report by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS). Numbers of international students at US universities grew constantly over the last couple of years, bolstering the budget of many American higher education institutions – a development highly appreciated given the rather low growth rate of 2 % of overall initial admission offers.

Taking a closer look at the 9 % growth of initial admission offers to international students, it becomes clear that significant changes in figures concerning India and Brazil have occurred. This year, a 46 % rise of offers to prospective students from Brazil can be observed. Yet, this development is unlikely to lead to a massive increased presence of Brazilian students at US American university campuses, given that they represent only 1 % of all offers to international students. Initial admission offers to Indian students have risen by 27 %. The rise of admission offers to Brazilian and Indian students can be partially explained by the rise of applications of 24 % and 20 % respectively. Whereas the number of applicants from India, as the second largest sending country, has grown, applications from China and South Korea, first and third largest sending countries, have slightly declined by 3 % and 10 % respectively.

Reasons for the fluctuations of numbers are not necessarily easy to explain. The Council of Graduate School’s report, however, collected data on universities’ estimation of the reasons for the changes in numbers. Competition and funding were indicated as the main reasons for a decrease in applications of overseas students, whereas targeted recruiting efforts must have proven efficient in increasing applications of international students.

Two specific aspects and possible trends become clear when considering the recently published numbers of initial admission offers to international students. On the one hand, although the lower percentage of applications from China and South Korea do not demonstrate a clear trend as such, they might be linked to the increase of tuition fees for international students at many US universities. This development has been critically observed especially among Chinese students. On the other hand, Brazil slowly starts to catch up in number of international students in the US. The main reason in the sharp rise of initial admission offers and hence also application to and from Brazilian students lies probably in the Brazilian government funded scholarship programme Ciência sem fronteiras – Science without borders. Moreover, with a growing middle class, Brazil might also become an interesting target market for US universities in the future.

The current numbers refer to admission offers made to international students. The publication of a report on actual numbers of enrolment is due in November 2013 and will show actual enrolment of students at US universities. 

Council of Graduate Schools press release

Council of Graduate Schools survey - Initial offers of admission