NEW DELHI—The top two suppliers of foreign graduate students for U.S. universities are heading in opposite directions. Over the past 2 years, applications from India have skyrocketed, while those from China have tapered off—leaving analysts scrambling for answers.
According to a report released on 17 April by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., the number of applicants to U.S. graduate schools from India grew by 32% in the past year, following a 22% rise the previous year. The new report also documents a parallel decline in Chinese applications, which fell by 1% this past year and 3% the year before, according to 294 colleges and universities that responded to a CGS survey.
If current trends continue, India may soon surpass China in the number of graduate students it sends to the United States. In 2013 alone, the number of Indian students taking the Graduate Record Examination, widely used to evaluate applicants to U.S. institutions, rose by 70%, and India has already overtaken China in the number of test takers. And in a 2012 study, Rupa Chanda, an economics professor at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, found that the number of Indian students—both undergraduate and graduate students—going abroad grew by a whopping 256% between 2000 and 2009. “There’s rising demand for higher education, growing aspirations, and affluence which enable people to go abroad,” Chanda says.