The motto of “any person, any study” at Cornell is meant to be emblematic of the diversity of the student population. Specifically, the Cornell Statement on Diversity and Inclusiveness is “Open Doors, Open Hearts, and Open Minds” for both the student body and for the employees. In the latest incoming class, 16% of students are Asian-American, 8% are Hispanic-American, 7% are African-American, and 18% are non-U.S. citizens. This is not specific to Cornell, but represents the overall pattern in universities across the United States, a pattern which is now seeing a rise in international students.
While diversity is an integral part of the college experience for both Americans and for those who hail from other countries, there are problems associated with the rapid increase in international students. Undergraduate enrollment of international students has increased much more than the enrollment of graduate students. Graduate programs have historically relied more on the attendance of those from other countries than undergraduate programs. With the decline of graduate enrollment rates from India and South Korea, two of the countries with the most students enrolling in American graduate schools, the question lingers: how much longer can the US rely on foreigners to enroll in graduate programs?
45% of all foreign students at American graduate schools are from India and China. However, the rate of Indian enrollment sharply decreased between 2007 and 2008, which has not slowed down this fall.
On the other hand, the increase in Chinese students has been continuously increasing in undergraduate programs. What can explain this trend? The Chinese government is attempting to make education more important, but there are simply not enough Chinese universities to meet the demand of the number of Chinese students. Also, the failing American economy has allowed the value of Chinese money in the US to increase, which has led to an increased opportunity of Chinese families to pay for an American education.