Today's New York Times plausibly predicts the end of U.S. dominance of post-graduate education.
Foreign students contribute $13 billion to the American economy annually. But this year brought clear signs that the United States' overwhelming dominance of international higher education may be ending. In July, Mr. Payne briefed the National Academy of Sciences on a sharp plunge in the number of students from India and China who had taken the most recent administration of the Graduate Record Exam, a requirement for applying to most graduate schools; it had dropped by half.
Foreign applications to American graduate schools declined 28 percent this year. Actual foreign graduate student enrollments dropped 6 percent. Enrollments of all foreign students, in undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral programs, fell for the first time in three decades in an annual census released this fall. Meanwhile, university enrollments have been surging in England, Germany and other countries.
What I found most interesting was this description of the (perceived) roles of higher education in various countries. I had no idea that our motivation for attracting foreign graduate students was to spread our American memes—silly me, I thought it had something to to with advancing knowledge. Perhaps that helps explain why conservatives get so upset, especailly recently, about the liberal professoriate.
In October, the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation, an economic forum for 30 leading industrial nations, took note of this global movement in a study. Stéphan Vincent-Lancrin, an analyst at the organization's headquarters in Paris and an author of the study, said that traditionally most countries, including the United States, had tried to attract foreign students as a way of disseminating their nation's core values.
But three other strategies emerged in the 1990's, Dr. Vincent-Lancrin said. Countries with aging populations like Canada and Germany, pursuing a "skilled migration" approach, have sought to recruit talented students in strategic disciplines and to encourage them to settle after graduation. Germany subsidizes foreign students so generously that their education is free.
Australia and New Zealand, pursuing a "revenue generating" approach, treat higher education as an industry, charging foreign students full tuition. They compete effectively in the world market because they offer quality education and the costs of attaining some degrees in those countries are lower than in the United States. Emerging countries like India, China and Singapore, pursuing a "capacity building" approach, view study abroad by thousands of their nation's students as a way of training future professors and researchers for their own university systems, which are expanding rapidly, Dr. Vincent-Lancrin said.
The article also points to yet another worldwide ranking of universities, this time focusing on Nobel laurates and Fields medalists, Science and Nature articles, citation counts in Science Citation Index, and (negatively) faculty size—in other words, considering only the natural sciences. (UIUC jumped from #45 last year to #26 this year, thanks in part to changes in ranking criteria and in part to two new Nobel laureates.) Woo.