A survey by the Council of Graduate Schools found that the total number of international applications to U.S. graduate schools fell 32 percent this year.

Over 90 percent of schools participating in the survey reported a decrease in international applications. Yale Graduate School Director of Admissions Robert Colonna said the number of international applicants to Yale graduate programs followed that trend, declining by 20 percent. International applications fell from 53 to 46 percent of total applications. Applications from China decreased at Yale and many other institutions, which officials said may be caused by visa difficulties and the economic climate.

The survey states that of the 113 responding schools, 76 percent saw a decrease in applicants from China. Yale saw a 30 percent decrease in the number of Chinese citizens applying to the graduate school.

This year, Yale also saw a drop in its number of applicants overall. Colonna said applications decreased by 6.3 percent to slightly over 8,500 applications, the second-highest number in school history. Colonna attributed the drop to international student applications.

“I think we’d have to say it came from the decrease in international applications,” Colonna said.

Chinese applications fell by 600, about 100 more than the decrease in total applications, Colonna said. He said the decrease in total applications was not that problematic.

“A decrease of 500 applications is not a significant thing from our perspective,” Colonna said.

Graduate School Dean Peter Salovey said in an e-mail that the decrease in international applications could be caused by visa regulations and the economy, particularly in the case of China.

“Sensible reform of current visa restrictions and delays facing international graduate students, as called for by President Levin, would help with this problem,” Salovey said in the e-mail. “It may also be the case that economic conditions in China and opportunities there are affecting the applicant pool too, but this is difficult to assess.”

Salovey also said that Yale still receives many more applications from China than it did a few years ago.

Director of International Students and Scholars Ann Kuhlman said students have experienced more visa troubles in the past two years than in any other year. She said Chinese students have “borne the brunt” of visa delays this year. About a dozen Yale students have experienced visa-related delays this year, she said.

Yuan Ren ’07 said while he had no trouble getting into the United States from China, he knows two Yale students who did. He said current U.S. regulations make it difficult for undergraduate and graduate students to come to the country.

“They’re just pretty strict,” Ren said. “Basically, you have to make excuses for how you’ll come back to China after graduation.”

He said being a Yale student makes the process a little easier.

“It’s quite a big issue in China,” Ren said. “But we are Yalies, so we are pretty lucky. All the alumni in Beijing have helped us.”

Unlike some other universities, Yale saw an increase in the number of applicants from some countries this year. While 58 percent of participating schools lost applicants from India, Yale saw a 16 percent increase in the number of Indian citizens who applied. Applications from Taiwan rose 4 percent.

In a March 2 press release, Council of Graduate Schools President Debra W. Stewart urged Congress and the Bush administration to evaluate current visa legislation. Stewart called the nationwide drop “alarming.”