Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Sunday, Mar 13, 2005
Industry & Economy
Is US education losing its attraction?
Chennai , March 12
GRADUATE school applications from international candidates wishing to study in the US are not increasing, but slipping. Between 2004 and 2005, the fall is five per cent, according to the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), "an organisation of institutions of higher education" in the US.
Last year, the fall was 28 per cent, notes Ed Frauenheim of CNET on www.news.com, reporting the findings of CGS. The questions that arise are whether Uncle Sam's ability to attract talent from around the world is fading, and whether the US faces stiffer competition in international education.
The plunge is of particular relevance to technology, "because foreigners historically have earned a large percentage of tech-related doctorates".
A quote of CGS president Debra Stewart cited in the news story emphasises that the country's prosperity depends on "the scientific discovery, innovation and knowledge creation that occurs in the US graduate schools" and argues for "better support for domestic students".
However, Frauenheim draws attention to National Science Foundation data of December 2004 that showed a rise in the number of science and engineering doctorates awarded by US Universities.
It rose from 24,571 in 2001-02 to 25,258 for the period from July 1, 2002, to June 30, 2003, "reversing a downward trend that began after a 1998 peak of 27,278".
The survey covered 450 members of CGS and 60 per cent reported fall in international graduate applications.
A break-up of the decline shows that inflow from China is down 13 per cent, and from India, nine per cent. Across fields, `engineering' faced a decline of seven per cent in international entries, while `business' saw an eight per cent fall.
Events of September 11, 2001 have perhaps cast a longer shadow than perceived earlier because CGS found that international graduate enrolments have been declining for three consecutive years after that date.
Apart from competition, blame is also on changed visa regime and "diminished perceptions of the US abroad," according to the Council.
To stem the drop in enrolments, there are a few damage control exercises that the CGS is happy about. These include reduction of visa-processing delays, and using more technology to improve admissions systems. "But continued declines in applications suggest competition abroad is on the rise," is Stewart's hypothesis.
It may be worthwhile to explore if the fall in `business' enrolments is due to the US Universities setting up shop on foreign shores?
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