Fewer Chinese students applied to US graduate schools for the 2012-13 academic year, but more were accepted than the previous year, according to a report.
The number of applications from Chinese students declined by 3 per cent, while admission offers to prospective Chinese students grew by 5 per cent, with 40 per cent of all admission offers going to Chinese students, according to the Council of Graduate Schools.
The council is an organisation of more than 500 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada.
"The US receives many more applications from highly qualified international students - including those from China - than our graduate institutions can possibly admit,'' said Debra Stewart, president of the council.
The decline in applications from Chinese students was mirrored by a 2 per cent decline in the overall growth of applications from international students to US graduate schools, compared with gains of 9 per cent in 2012 and 11 per cent in 2011, according to the council.
Chinese students have flooded US colleges and universities in recent years, making up about one-third of all international graduate students in the US. China, India and South Korea sent the most graduate students to the US.
Consultants from China, however, said the overall number of Chinese students going to the US may still be increasing because the report compiled only 500 institutions.
Zheng Zhaoyu, general manager of the training department at EIC Group, an overseas study consultancy, said his company saw a 20 per cent year-on-year increase in students from the Chinese mainland that applied to undergraduate courses and graduate courses in the US. Such an increase has continued for about five years, he said.
Zhao Qing, vice-manager for US and Canada projects in the Guangzhou branch office of Amber Education, a Hong Kong-based education-counseling service, said an increasing number of students from low- and middle-income families are also looking to the US for further study.
"To choose a university with less competition means more opportunities to obtain scholarships,"she said.
Chen Yashu, a Chinese student who earned a master's degree at Michigan State University and is now a PhD student at Arizona State University majoring in intercultural communication, said she was not surprised to see many Chinese students at orientation.
"I had 30 classmates from China when I studied advertising at Michigan State University, where Chinese students accounted for more than two-thirds of my programme,"she said.