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International Students Applying to US and European Universities

Why now is the best time to apply

College campus

Schools want international students now more than ever.  This is very good news for international applicants to U.S., European and Canadian universities and graduate schools, including the top schools such as the Ivy League universities in the U.S. and Cambridge and Oxford in the UK.  There are a couple of reasons why now is the right time to apply.  The first and most pressing reason universities are increasing their international student populations is financial.  The second reason is not new but is increasing in importance – campus diversity.

As with any period of economic decline or uncertainty, those with funds are prized customers.  The U.S., Europe and Canada are experiencing a period of economic hardship and national and regional governments, a primary source of funding for universities, are providing fewer funds.   Schools are looking for new sources of funding, and international students are the most logical source.

There has also been a continued strong push towards diversifying campus populations.  In the U.S., diversity has been a well-established trend at universities.  The percentage of international students on campus, however, continues to rise as research on the benefits of diversity grows.  “Internationalization is currently a top priority for American higher education,” said Molly Corbett Broad, American Council on Education president.   In the UK, schools have been actively recruiting international students while internationalizing their campuses.  In Canada, attracting international students for their diversity is a government priority at all levels. The trend and benefits of diversity on campuses in the US, Europe and Canada continues to be positive and underscores the great need for international students now.

Enrollment Statistics for International Students

Upward Trend Chart

According to the Institute of International Education, the numbers tell the story: the number of international students going to U.S. colleges has risen steadily over the last many years, with new students rising from 143,000 in 2005-2006 to 203,000 in 2009-2010, a 42% increase, with an expected additional increase for the 2010-2011 school year.  In the U.K. the number of total international students rose from 136,000 in 2000-2001 to 248,000 in 2008-2009.  In Canada, the number of international students has doubled in the 10 year period ending 2009 from 97,000 to 196,000 students.

The forecast for growth in international student populations is positive.  In the U.S., many schools have plans to increase “out-of-state” (including international students) to overcome additional anticipated government funding cuts over the foreseeable future.  21 universities in the U.K. plan to raise their number of international students this year by 25% according to The Guardian newspaper, and one, Durham University, by 97% over the next 4 years.  The forecast for growth in international student population in the UK through 2020 by The British Council is just as positive, with compound annual growth overall as high as 8.1%.

The message from U.S., European and Canadian colleges to international applicants is clear: we want you!  So if you are an international applicant to a U.S., European and Canadian university consider applying to more than one or two schools.  Spread your options and apply to more competitive schools as well because this may be the best time ever to be an international applicant.

Guest Blog: Kent Fernandez, Founder of Ivy Plus

Ivy Plus, based in Norway, is an independent college and graduate admissions counseling service serving Scandinavian based students (Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland).