The number of overseas students at US universities has shot to a decade high, sparking fears that UK universities will miss out on their share of the market. Almost 624,000 international students enrolled at US universities in 2007-08 – a 7% rise on the year before and the largest one-year increase in more than a decade. The number of Chinese students grew by almost a fifth (19.8%) in 2007, while Indian and South Korean enrollments rose 12.8% and 10.8%, respectively. The Institute of International Education in New York, which reported the growth, said the rise was because of Congress making it easier for overseas students to apply for visas, as well as the weak dollar.
Other factors contributing to the surge included the US doubling recruitment efforts overseas in recent months, and science, technology, engineering and maths students now being able to stay for up to 29 months. The British Council warned that UK universities may lose out unless they promote themselves in a 'smarter' and 'more sustainable' way. Pat Killingley, its higher education director, said, 'The US is already reaping the rewards of a more proactive marketing effort overseas.' 'British universities, supported by higher education agencies and government departments, must respond with a smarter marketing effort.' The UK has become 46% cheaper for Chinese students over the past year, 29% cheaper for Malaysians and 10% cheaper for Indian applicants.