International enrolments from East Asia could be on the wane

May 21, 2014

A new report in the Chronicle of Higher Education takes a close look at shifting demographic trends in Asian student applications to US universities. The article warns that the slowing rate of South Korean applications may be a harbinger of things to come for US schools that have become overly reliant on tuition from Chinese students. Growling affluence in South Korea in the 1990s fueled a boom in US applications from that country, a situation that is echoed in the Chinese situation today. However, a US degree has not offered Korean or Chinese graduates the competitive edge in the job market that many expected it would; moreover, a recent study has found that Korean graduates of American colleges are actually less successful than their counterparts who remained at home, due in part to a lack of a professional network. Moreover, opportunities that were previously only available abroad—such as superior English language instruction and state-of-the-art research facilities—are becoming accessible at home or through international exchanges between the countries. While analysts point out that Chinese enrolments are unlikely to plummet suddenly, numbers will begin to taper off. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)