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Another Threat to Universities: Falling Numbers of Graduate Students

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students walking on California State University, Fullerton campus

Credit: Getty Images

Five years ago more than 1,300 graduate students from around the world flocked to the engineering and computer science program at California State University, Fullerton. Today, the college has 759.

The lion's share of the decline is a drop in the number of international engineering students, says Susamma Barua, the college's dean.

Even before the pandemic, there were signs that the once-reliable flow of graduate students and the money they bring was beginning to slow. And now, when that money may be needed most, school leaders and researchers fear that these numbers could plummet.

The biggest question is whether students from abroad will risk coming to the United States. While that's a problem at all levels of higher education, it has much more of an impact on graduate programs, where international students make up 13 percent of the enrollment, compared to less than 3 percent of undergrads.

The Hechinger Report
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