Growth of Chinese students in the US dips to 1.7 percent: IIE

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/19 21:15:30

Photo: VCG

Though Chinese students remain the biggest source of international students in the US, the growth of the amount declined to the lowest number of 1.7 percent in the year of 2018/2019, according to a newly released report by the Institute of International Education (IIE) on Monday. 

Such an increase was followed by a 8.1 percent growth between 2015 and 2016, a 6.8 percent growth between 2016 and 2017 and a 3.6 percent growth between 2017 and 2018, said IIE. 

For the 10th consecutive year, China remained the largest source of international students in the US in 2018/19 with 369,548 students in undergraduate, graduate, non-degree, and optional practical training (OPT) programs, the report noted. The group accounted for one-third of total international students in the US at present. 

It is notable that the number of Chinese enrolling in non-degree programs, including visiting scholars, decreased 5.4 percent year on year. 

Official at China's Ministry of Education said in June, China planned to send 1,353 Chinese students to study in the US but 182 of them failed due to visa complications.

Another report titled "IIE Center for Academic Mobility Research and Impact" said among the colleges and universities surveyed, 51 percent reported a decrease of new enrollment of international students in the US. 

Survey respondents listed visa application process issues or delays or denials as the top reason for fall 2019 drops in new enrollment. 

"The proportion of institutions citing this factor grew from 68.4 percent in fall 2017 to 86.9 percent in fall 2019. Even among institutions that reported that their new enrollment had increased or stayed the same, visa issues remained the top issue when asked about factors that may be affecting their institution (81.5 percent)," the report said. 

In addition, 57.9 percent institutions continued to report the US social and political environment is the factor contributing to new international student declines. The number used to be 19 percent in 2016. 

Other reasons of the declining enrollment go to global competition with other countries' institutions, costs of US higher education and difficulty to secure a job in the US. 

"Even though the growth rate of Chinese students in the US dropped, there is still a big demand among Chinese students to study in the US. Among all the Chinese students studying abroad, the ones going to the US account for 65 percent," Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the Shanghai-based 21st Century Education Research Institute, told the Global Times, adding that in the short term the trend will not change. 

But Xiong noted Chinese students' choices have become various. They started to consider studying in European countries, Canada and Australia. 

Statistics from the British Embassy in Beijing shows that 107,000 Tier four student visas were granted to Chinese citizens between July 2018 and June this year, a 21 percent growth year-on-year.

The US added scrutiny on Chinese STEM-field researchers since May 2018 as the number of lengthy checks increased on Chinese graduate students. 

Overseas students now make up 5.5 percent of the total US student population and contributed $44.7 billion to the American economy last year, the data from the US Department of Commerce showed. 

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