The number of Taiwanese enrolled in US colleges and universities in the current academic year fell for the sixth consecutive year, according to a report by the Institute of International Education (IIE).
The New York-based group reported that the number of Taiwanese students enrolled in higher education in the US fell by 5.9 percent from a year earlier to 21,867, continuing a decrease that started in the 2007 to 2008 academic year.
Among Taiwanese studying in the US, 49.7 percent were graduate students, roughly the same percentage as in previous years, while 27.4 percent were enrolled in undergraduate programs and the rest were pursuing non-degree studies.
Despite the decline, Taiwan maintained its ranking as the sixth-largest country of origin of international students in the US, after having fallen one notch in the previous academic year.
Even as fewer Taiwanese chose to study in the US, the number of students who decided to stay and work there increased to 3,417, from 3,377 last year.
A woman surnamed Yang (楊) who graduated from the University of Southern California and currently works at a public relations company said she originally wanted to return to Taiwan after getting some experience in the US.
However, after considering Taiwan’s overtime culture and relatively low salaries, she decided to remain in the US for the time being.
The number of international students enrolled in US higher education programs increased by 7 percent to 819,644 in the current academic year, largely driven by a sharp increase in students from China.
The number of Chinese students enrolled in higher education programs in the US hit 235,000 in the current academic year, a surge of 21 percent from the previous year.
Students from countries in the second and third places in terms of the number of students in the US — India and South Korea — showed a decline of 4 percent and 2 percent respectively.
“The factors driving these declines likely include a mix of global and home country economic factors, growing higher education opportunities at home and stronger employment opportunities after graduation,” the report said.
Rounding out the top 10 sources of international students were Saudi Arabia, Canada, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, Mexico and Turkey.
Continued growth in international students in the US has had a positive economic impact for the country, as they contribute more than US$24 billion to the US economy, according to the US Department of Commerce.
The University of Southern California had the most of international students (9,840), followed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Purdue University.