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Indians fill up US colleges again

Applications from foreign students have increased by 11 per cent against a decline of 32 per cent in last two years, reports S Rajagopalan.
None | By S Rajagopalan, Washington
UPDATED ON MAR 26, 2006 03:35 AM IST

India once again tops the list of foreign students in the US. Applications for the Fall 2006 season point to the biggest increase of 23 per cent from India, which overtook China five years ago and has been significantly raising its share year after year.

The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) has reported an overall 11 per cent increase in international graduate applications after two years of declines, attributed largely to a tight visa regime in a post-9/11 security environment.

The upbeat survey, however, does not provide absolute numbers. During 2004-05 academic year, US universities had admitted 80,466 Indian students compared to 65,523 from China, 53,358 from South Korea and 42,215 from China, according to figures released by the Institute of International Education last November.

“The increase in applications from foreign students is good news and is a result of sustained efforts by both the federal government and graduate schools,” said Debra W Stewart, president of the Washington-based CGS.

China closely follows India with a 21 per cent rise in number of applicants. As far as courses go, the largest increase in applications this year are for engineering (17 per cent over last year), followed by life sciences (16 per cent).

The council attributed the turnaround to major policy changes both at government and institutional levels. New procedures by the federal government have reduced visa delays, while institutions have modified procedures for “more efficient and timely” admissions.

The upswing in applications this year is being seen against the drop of 5 per cent last year and 28 per cent the year before that. The declines had fuelled concerns over the US losing its competitive edge even as countries like Britain and Australia were beginning to attract foreign students in a big way.

The emerging scenario prompted the Bush administration to announce plans last January to offer more Fulbright scholarships.

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