Chinese enrollment at American universities up from previous years

By Claire Reid Kiss

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The Fall 2010 enrollment in American colleges brought an increase of foreign student enrollment, specifically students from China. The enrollment of Chinese students in American universities increased 30 percent, for the 2009-10 academic year.

According to an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, the number of international students reached its highest ever. The U.S. welcomes more foreign students than any other country, according to the Institute of International Education (IIE), a New York-based non-profit that promotes student exchanges between U.S. and overseas universities. Roughly 671,600 international students attended colleges and universities in America during the 2008-2009 school year and of those 671,600 students, 62 percent are Asian, according to IIE.

Chinese students advancing to America for college increased 30 percent, with a total of nearly 128,000 students, for the 2009-10 academic year.

According to the IIE, foreign students contributed nearly $18 billion in 2008 to the U.S. economy, making some hopeful this connection will foster stronger ties between the U.S. and foreign nations while providing a stable source of revenue for universities still reeling from the recession.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the increase of Chinese students is in part because of the growing variability of American college’s majors and curriculum plans. This supposedly attracts more students, especially those interested in subjects that aren’t popular in their home countries, specifically humanities. Because foreign students pay out of state tuition to American universities, this can help universities fill budgetary gaps left by the turbulent economic climate.

Also, according the article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Chinese students are flocking to American colleges because of the Chinese college-entrance exam, the Gaokao, which is considered very rigorous and demanding, far more than the American SAT (Scholastic Apititude Test). Because of this, more Chinese students are skipping the Gaokao to study for the SAT so they can study in America, where they are less challenged.

Also, China’s one child policy means that parents have more money to dedicate to their children’s education.

“With the one-child policy in China and a rapidly growing middle class, more and more parents are able to invest their considerable resources into securing a world-class education for their child”, said Pegy Bluementhal executive VP and COO of IIE.

The University of Massachusetts welcomes students from 70 different countries around the world. However, foreign students only make up about 1,600 of the 26,000 students at UMass, according to the University website.

Despite the increasing number of Chinese students coming to America, it seems that UMass is not as significantly affected as other schools are, like New York University, Stanford University or University of California, Los Angeles. However, Mount Holyoke, a fellow member of the Five College Consortium, ranks as the second most popular university for foreign students to come to out of all-women institutions.

According to an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, while the number of Chinese students attending American colleges is increasing, the number of students coming from other countries, like India, is decreasing because of India’s weakening economy.

Claire Reid Kiss can be reached at [email protected]