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Iowa sees jump in enrollment of Chinese students

By Kelly Chung Dawson (China Daily)

08:39, February 17, 2012

Associate Professor Wang Xinwei (left) and a student and a research associate study the thermal conductivity of organic materials at Iowa State University's Applied Sciences Complex in Ames, Iowa. (China Daily / Bob Elbert)

DES MOINES, Iowa - Following a nationwide trend, Iowa's universities have seen a rapid surge of enrollment by Chinese students in the past few years, according to officials.

At Iowa State University, Chinese undergraduate enrollment grew from 72 students in 2002 to 1,212 this year. At the University of Iowa, the enrollment of Chinese undergraduate and graduate students went from 591 in 2005 to 1,737 last year.

"The increase is due primarily to a combination of a growing Chinese middle class and the growing ability of families in China to afford to send students to the US, combined with the belief of Chinese families that students will get both a good education and a stronger proficiency in English," said James Dorsett, director of Iowa State's international students and scholars office.

Additionally, Chinese universities have become much more competitive in recent years, said Russell Ganim, director of the University of Iowa's world languages division. Admission standards have become more stringent, making Western institutions an attractive alternative, he said.

"While there's a huge selection of universities in China, there are so many college-age students who can't get into Chinese universities that they have to seek opportunities in the US, Canada, the UK and elsewhere," Ganim said. "You could call it 'education outsourcing in reverse.'"

Patricia Parker, associate director of admissions at Iowa State, said that the university recruits heavily in China. In the past few years, the US State Department has responded to concerns voiced by various universities that visa application standards were too rigid, she said.

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