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KU sees rise in applicants from China, India

As colleges and universities across the country report an uptick in the numbers of applications they’re getting from international students, Kansas University is no exception.

Nationally, schools are seeing more and more applications from China, according to a report from the Council of Graduate Schools. Nationwide, this fall’s applications from that country are up 18 percent for master’s and doctoral programs from a year ago, the report showed. KU, however, is seeing a higher percentage increase from India, said Thomas Heilke, dean of graduate studies at KU.

Applications for graduate study from India increased 20 percent from this time a year ago. China went up, too, but by 7.4 percent. Charlie Bankart, assistant vice provost for international programs, said China still is far and away the country that sends the most international students to campus, making the percentages a little deceiving.

“Your base is that much higher,” he said.

India has had 270 students apply in 2012, while China had 872. Both countries have increasing populations and a growing middle class, Bankart said. In China, however, a different family structure, with families limited to having only one child, can mean it’s easier for those children to attend school overseas with grandparents, aunts and uncles helping out.

“That whole network is able to leverage their funds collectively to provide a student with the funds to get an education that will change their life,” Bankart said.

Heilke said KU’s overall increase in graduate international applications — up 9 percent from last year — is right in line with the national average, as cited in the Council of Graduate Students report. Much of the uptick is in the sciences, particularly in the life sciences, he said. Bankart said KU is seeking to increase its graduate and undergraduate enrollment of international students.

Some new measures are being put in place, including an effort to reach out to international students with information about application deadlines and other details, instead of simply responding to emailed questions. Other programs currently under review for international students include an orientation program and a program to offer additional academic support in the students’ first year, Bankart said.

“We’re hoping these students are going to get their (bachelor’s degrees) and think about KU for graduate school,” he said.

KU’s School of Law is also involved in recruiting international students. Law Dean Stephen Mazza said the school operates a two-year program ending in a juris doctorate degree, designed for students who already have earned a law degree in their home country. Mazza said the law school has not had a focus on China but has tried to step up its recruitment efforts with law schools in other countries.

The law school is not trying to expand the program beyond its current levels of eight to 10 students, Mazza said. The students come to the law school from all over the world, he said. “We feel that the international students enrich the classroom,” he said. “But we don’t want to overwhelm the classroom.”

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