UW-Madison sees increase in international graduate students

MADISON — The University of Wisconsin-Madison is seeing an increase in international graduate students, bucking the nationwide drop in international graduate students.

UW-Madison had 725 new international graduate students enroll in 2017, up from about 670 students in 2016, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

The university saw a slight decrease in overall applications in 2017, but the total number of enrollees has gone up, said Parmesh Ramanathan, the associate dean for graduate programs and services at UW-Madison.

The university has seen a 5 percent increase in international graduate students from 2007 to 2017. Less than 30 percent of the university's graduate students come from other countries, Ramanathan said.

International graduate student enrollments were down nationwide for a second consecutive year, according to the Council of Graduate Schools. While the council didn't pinpoint a reason for the decline, officials said there's concern that the U.S. political climate and the country's immigration policies may be deterring prospective students.

"We have no reason to believe one way or the other" whether President Donald Trump's policies have had a chilling effect at UW-Madison, said Ramanathan. "Visas and those things do have an effect but U.S. policies vary from one country to another. We see an aggregate. But it's clearly a factor in affecting students from certain countries."

One factor that may influence whether international students stay in their home country is their local area's economy, he said.

"If the economy is good in their home country, many of the undergrads there may take up jobs as opposed to trying to pursue graduate studies," explained Ramanathan.