For many years, US colleges have relied on China for a steady source of international students. The large number of Chinese students was important to US colleges. Their tuition fees contributed to the budget and also made for a culturally diverse campus. But the surge of Chinese students is leveling off. So, US colleges are starting to look elsewhere for foreign students. They are carrying out recruitment efforts in part of the world like the Middle East, Latin America and South Asia.
The Surge of Chinese Students Is Slowing Down
The number of students from China had seen a dramatic increase in recent times. The economic development of China offered more opportunities to some Chinese families. So, they could afford to send their children abroad to experience an American education. A decade ago the number of Chinese students in US colleges was 62,000. Last year, that number was 328,000. That is a significant growth.
Overall, Chinese students make up 31 percent of the total of foreign students in the United States. But the growth is slowing down. According to federal data released by the Institute of International Education, the number of students from China grew by just 8 percent in the last year. Compared to previous years, that is a small figure.
A factor that has contributed to this decline is China’s economy that has been slowing down recently. Another factor is competition from colleges in other countries, like Australia. What is certain is that US colleges are not going to see record numbers of Chinese students anymore.
Todd Maurer is an analyst from California. He advises colleges as well as education companies regarding trends in Asia. He believes that the surge in Chinese students in US colleges is decidedly winding down.
“For a variety of factors, we’re seeing a slowdown in Chinese enrollment. I think we’re seeing the last years of double-digit growth,”
said Todd Maurer.
US Colleges Facing Loss of Revenue
Colleges are interested in attracting foreign students for reasons that have to do with having a diverse learning environment. But another key reason is the financial aspect. Most colleges don’t offer any scholarships to international students. So, usually, they pay full tuition costs. Losing the source of revenue that foreign students represent could affect the budget of schools in the United States. Some public universities are having a difficult time as it is. Their budget has to deal with drops in state funding.
Stephen Dunnett is the vice provost at the University at Buffalo. Part of his job is to manage international education programs. He says that many colleges depend on tuition fees from Chinese students and are now worrying.
“They would be severely hurt if there was a contraction. There’s no Plan B. There’s no other country that would send students in those numbers,”
said Stephen Dunnett.
The rising cost of tuition at US colleges has made room for competition for foreign students from other countries. Kelechi Kalu is the vice president of international affairs at the University of California-Riverside and witnessed this firsthand.
“When I was in the continent (Africa) earlier in the summer, some of the parents and students were telling me they can spend less to go to Australia or the UK,”
said Kelechi Kalu.
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