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The number of researchers from the Middle East applying to graduate study programmes in the United States rose by six per cent in the past year, the second consecutive year that applications from the region increased.

According to the US-based Council of Graduate Schools, which released the figures last week, the rise in applications challenges the belief that tighter US visa regulations since 11 September 2001 would deter students from Muslim nations.

The visa restrictions have been cited as the reason for the falling number of foreign student applying to study there (see Foreign students staying away from United States).

According the council's report, the number of foreign applications to US graduate schools declined by 28 per cent between 2003 and 2004. Between 2004 and 2005, applications fell again, but only by five per cent.

That decrease corresponds to a similar trend in the United Kingdom and so could be due to external factors, the report adds.

Link to full Science news story