Slowing graduate-school enrollments, including a 5 percent decline in applications from China for fall 2013, are hurting the revenues of many U.S. universities, Moody's Investors Service said on Friday.
In a commentary, Moody's said graduate school enrollments for the coming autumn term increased by just 1 percent, or the smallest increase in 11 years, according to data from the Council of Graduate Schools.
Private universities took the biggest blow, with applications from typically higher-paying international students off 4 percent. Public universities saw international applications go up 3 percent, Moody's said.
Applications from China, the largest exporter of graduate students to the United States, were off 5 percent.
"Falling applications from China is credit negative for many U.S. universities because Chinese students account for approximately one third of international graduate enrollments, and they tend to pay higher net tuition than domestic students," Moody's said.
"Another soft year of graduate enrollment in the fall of 2013 is likely to further weaken net tuition revenue growth in fiscal year 2014, especially at graduate-intensive private universities," Moody's said.
The turndown comes as other sources of revenue gains, including tuition increases, are thinning. But, Moody's said, it did not expect the fall-off in overseas graduate applications to materially affect U.S. universities in the short term.