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US universities still a top draw for international students

Around the globe, many say that the Virginia Tech shootings won't affect their plans to study in the US.

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Nikhil Mantrawadi, a 28-year-old Indian computer engineering student from Pune, is burning the midnight oil these days, hunching his tall frame over preparations for the Graduate Record Examination he is scheduled to take on May 30.

A good score will be his ticket to grad school at a top US university – Stanford, he hopes – and to his dream of a career as a scientist there. The massacre at Virginia Tech has not deterred him in the slightest.

Indeed, he is considering applying to Virginia Tech because of its reputation. "That was an isolated incident," he says of Cho Seung-hui's shooting spree that left 32 people dead on Monday. "The massacre was committed by a student, not a terrorist. It could have happened anywhere."

The campus tragedy has caught the world's attention, but interviews around the globe suggest that it has dissuaded very few from pursuing their dreams of studying at some of the most revered universities in the world.

Today's internationally mobile students "go wherever they need to go to do what they need to do," says Rolf Hoffmann, head of the Fulbright Commission in Berlin, which advises students on study in the US. "They are not guided by emotion."

They are not universally sanguine, however. In Seoul, where Mr. Cho was born, fourth-year Korea University student Kim Min Wook says that after he graduates in June, he will continue his studies in England because "America is more dangerous."

"Now people hesitate to go to the US," he adds.

But most students' worries are outweighed by the career prospects that a US education opens up and the sense that "this was an exceptional affair ... a personal problem, not the fault of an educational system," as an international relations official at a leading Chinese university put it.

"This will not discourage students," says Albert Kim, a former UN official from South Korea who studied in the US. "They know study in the States is the only way to a really good education. Everybody wants to go to the US."


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