GRE data on China and India: trends and implications for international graduate admissions pipeline

Sep 1, 2013

Ten-year data of GRE examinees for international markets is an excellent source of insights to understand changing trends in demand and how sensitive are different markets to external environment.
 
Consider the case of top-two sources of international graduate students in the world, China and India. A sharp change in numbers from either of these markets can significantly influence the enrollment statistics at several institutions. (Here is a related blog post comparing GRE and GMAT test-takers)
 
 
Above chart suggests:
1. Growth: Number of GRE test takers from India have increased by 38% in 2011 as compared to 24% for China. Even with this growth, India is still lower than its peak volume of 70,000 pre-recession and almost same as its volume in 2002. In contrast, China touched its all time high of nearly 61,000 test-takers in 2011, which is almost 45% higher than 2002 volume. India still has higher growth potential as compared to China.
 
2. Sensitivity: India is a price-sensitive market which responds more in terms of changes in the external environment. For example, number of test-takers declined sharply during the 2008 global financial crisis. India also recovered faster last year, surpassing China. In contrast, China had been a consistent growth market, indicating a higher purchasing power and lesser sensitivity to financial concerns.
 
These trends should be interpreted in the perspective of the launch of revised GRE in 2011, which expanded the pool of people who used GRE for business school admissions.
 
Future trends
China is already showing signs of maturing in terms of interest for graduate education in the US. According to recent report from Council of Graduate Studies, final number of applications from China declined by 3% for fall 2013, after three consecutive years of nearly 20% growth. In contrast, India is showing signs of recovery with growth of 22% as compared to single digit growth in previous three years. 
 
Going forward, graduate school deans and admissions officers are becoming increasingly curious about future trends. They want to know--Is China growth story for graduate schools over? What will be the impact of steep devaluation of Indian currency and its implication on affordability for Indian students?
 
What are your thoughts/comments?
 
Dr. Rahul Choudaha (copyright)

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