Each fall, thousands and thousands of students from one East Asian country arrive on American campuses.
They come from a culture that views education as key to success, where mothers and fathers save to send their only children overseas. On top of tuition, parents shell out for test prep and cram schools, supplemental English lessons, and recruitment agents to shepherd them through an unfamiliar admissions process. Once only a small elite pursued advanced degrees internationally; today many sons and daughters of the nation’s emergent middle class go abroad.
The country in question? It is tempting to guess China. In fact, it’s South Korea.
But after years of robust, even double-digit, enrollment increases, there are troubling signs. Graduate applications from Korea to American colleges have fallen off. Last year the number of Korean undergraduates in the United States dropped, too. Fewer South Koreans study in the United States now than five years ago.
Softening interest from the third-largest supplier of international students to the United States is worrisome in its own right. The reversal could also serve as a warning to American institutions that have grown reliant on tuition revenue from the largest source, China—an admonition not to assume that its numbers, too, will continue to go in only one direction, up. <Read more.>