Since 9-11, the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) have attempted to quantify the effects of visa and immigration changes on the flow of international graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. Both surveys have limitations but they provide potentially useful insights into recent trends.
IIE, supported by the US Department of State, has been collecting information on international student flows, including enrollments in US graduate schools, since 1950. Its Open Doors reporta provides data on international students in all fields and visiting scholars who are teaching or conducting research on US campuses; it also provides data on US students abroad. IIE reports place of origin, funding sources, and fields of study of graduate students. Its fall 2003 and 2004 enrollment surveys did not break down graduate enrollment by field and included master’s and doctoral students in business, engineering, science, and other fields. Retrospective numbers indicate that S&E fields represent about 40 percent of total international enrollments, but it is not possible to gather field-specific information specifically for graduate students from these snapshot surveys.
CGS has been collecting graduate application, admission, and enrollment data since 1986.b CGS surveys virtually all PhD-granting institutions in the United States and collects enrollment data by institutional type, ethnicity, sex, and citizenship. CGS gathers information on S&E fields, business, education, humanities and arts, and public administration and services, and it groups together as “other” such fields as architecture, communications, home economics, library sciences, and religion. It performed snapshot applications, admissions, and enrollment surveys in 2003 and 2004, but the most recent complete data publicly available are from 2002.
On the basis of these snapshot surveys, CGS reported substantial decreases in international graduate-student applications and admissions between 2003 and 2004 (see Table 1-2 below).c International student applications and admissions to S&E graduate programs were among the hardest-hit. Most graduate students apply to more than program, so the application rate does not correspond with numbers of students. A drop in application rate may reflect the same total number of students applying to fewer schools and does not imply a drop in quality. This interpretation is supported by CGS data, which showed the later decrease in enrollments to be much smaller.d Total domestic-student applications and admissions did not change between 2003 and 2004, whereas enrollments decreased by 5 percent. Data from IIE indicate a smaller increase in first-time international-student enrollments than would be expected on the basis of previous trends.e
Data from the CGS 2005 survey of graduate-school applications indicate a 5 percent overall decrease in international-student applications between 2004 and 2005. Engineering programs saw a 7 percent decrease, life sciences programs a 1