American universities are enrolling unprecedented numbers of foreign students, prompted by the rise of an affluent class in China and generous scholarships offered by oil-rich Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia. USA continues to be the top destination for students from India who want to pursue higher studies abroad. China and India are sending more immigrants to the U.S. than Mexico, following more than a decade of decreasing immigration from Latin America, according to the latest numbers from the Census Bureau.
The top two suppliers of foreign graduate students for U.S. universities are heading in opposite directions. Over the past 2 years, applications from India have skyrocketed, while those from China have tapered off—leaving analysts scrambling for answers. U.S. universities are enrolling record numbers of foreign students, including many affluent Indian and Chinese. The Census study suggests the “age structure” of inflows of immigrants from India looks roughly the same in the two time periods. In both cases, the flows are concentrated in the 20 to 34 age group, especially people ages 25 to 29, for both men and women. These are potentially young workers starting and building their careers, or postgraduates getting more education—as opposed to older people or college students or teenagers.
According to a report released recently by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., the number of applicants to U.S. graduate schools from India grew by 32% in the past year, following a 22% rise the previous year. The new report also documents a parallel decline in Chinese applications, which fell by 1% this past year and 3% the year before, according to 294 colleges and universities that responded to a CGS survey.
Between these two time periods, 2005-07 and 2011-13, the age groups that saw the largest percentage point increases were 15 to 19 years old and 20 to 24 years old, for both men and women, US Census Bureau said. These ages are roughly around the time people go to college—though, of course, plenty of young Chinese immigrants may not be going to college but may instead be in low-wage jobs or something else. (Note these figures include immigrants from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.)
Some of these Indian immigrants are coming on skilled-worker U.S. visas, known as H-1Bs, no doubt, but that’s not the whole story. Demand for such visas among employers has long exceeded each year’s congressionally mandated supply.
Of course, America’s share of immigrants has been growing for some time. In 1970, it was just 4.7%. The latest projections are interesting, however, because they suggest immigrants will eventually exceed even the historically-high levels seen in the late 19thand early 20th century. Roughly 13% of America’s population is foreign-born now, according to the latest, 2013 data—the highest level since the 1920s. But this share is expected to grow to 13.5% in 2015 and then 15.1% in 2025—above a peak of 14.8% in 1890. By 2049, Census projects a little over 18% of the population will be foreign-born. 2060? Nearly 19% (18.8%).
According to an analysis by Brookings Institution’s William Frey, between 2015 and 2060, native non-Hispanic whites in the U.S. will decline by 23 million—while the rest of the population (minorities and immigrants) will increase by 118 million. Native non-Hispanic whites will be a minority before 2040, and will be only two-fifths of America’s population in 2060. The share of the foreign-born in the U.S. population is expected to rise substantially in coming decades.
Meanwhile, Britain has been more stringent in offering work visas to graduating students from abroad. Britain’s very own home affairs select committee now wants prime minister David Cameron to review its earlier decision to abolish the post study work visa which allowed international students to work for two years in UK after finishing their education here. In an exclusive interview with the media, the chairman of the highly influential House of Commons committee Keith Vaz said, “Yes, we absolutely should review this policy. When looking at this situation, the home affairs select committee recommended a review of post study work visas to alleviate the clearly negative elements of the current policy”.
Vaz who was recently appointed the vice-chairman of the Labour Party added, “At present, we are seeing an unprecedented decline in the number of Indian students, which is a serious problem for our educational institutions, our economy and for the students themselves, who have been dissuaded from attending some of the most prestigious universities in the world”. According to Vaz, “the best way to establish relations between countries is through young people from India coming to study in the UK”. He added, “I want them to come and study in London, Leicester and Liverpool”.
This comes a day after Scotland told TOI of its plans to introduce a special visa that will allow Indian students to work in Scotland at least for two years after they finish their education degree there. Post-study work visa was abolished by the UK government in April 2012. This had led to a 50 per cent dip in Indian students visiting British universities for higher education.
International students in UK universities come from over 190 countries. The UK is just below the US in terms of the total number and diversity of international students in its higher education institutions. In total, during the 2013/14 academic year, international students contributed £1,003 million in fee income to London universities.
A recent report said, “We estimate that the direct income from tuition fees contributed £1,317 million to UK GDP; £717 million directly, £183 million via the supply chain and £417 million via the spending of employees. In addition, the £1,003 million in tuition fee income from international students generated a total of 32,800 jobs. We estimate that, in total, friends and relatives that visit international students in London spent £62 million in 2013/14. This spending will contribute £65 million to UK GDP”.
In 2013-14 there were almost 67,500 international students attending London universities – making up 18% of the total student population in the capital, and 22% of the 3,10,000 international students across the UK. The decline in Indian students choosing to study at UK universities has been flagged up as a worrying trend as a new study said that international students coming here contribute nearly 2.3 billion pounds to the British economy every year.