(U-WIRE) AUSTIN, Texas-Foreign applications to U.S. graduate schools increased 11 percent, according to a 2006 survey of the University of Texas and 149 other universities.

But the survey, conducted by the Council of Graduate Schools, which represents the research and academic interests of graduate students nationwide, found that foreign applications were down 23 percent from 2003, despite the increases. The numbers began to decline in 2002, following heightened visa restrictions after Sept. 11, 2001, such as lengthier security checks and application processes.

Council spokesman Stuart Heiser said the increase was the result of an effort between graduate schools and the State Department to make the United States more accessible to foreign students.

Pat Ellison, UT admissions associate director, and her office tabulated estimates of the number of applications. She could not be reached for comment.

A fall 2005 report by International Student and Scholar Services, however, showed an increase in international students for the first time in three years.