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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States 1 International Science and Engineering Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States Since World War II, the United States has experienced a steadily growing inflow of students and postdoctoral scholars from throughout the world, most rapidly during the 1990s.1 The increases have taken place despite evidence that US graduate schools give preference to domestic applicants.2 From the 1970s, the strongest inflow of graduate students has been from Asian countries (see Table 1-1). From 1985 to 2001, students from China, Taiwan, India, and South Korea earned more than half the 148,000 US science and engineering (S&E) doctoral degrees awarded to foreign students, 4 times the number awarded to students from Europe. Scholarly visitors gained clear legal status in 1952, when the Immigration and Nationality Act first offered the F visa for those pursuing academic studies and the J visa for exchange visitors. Today, the total number of foreign citizens studying in the United States (including undergraduates) has passed the half-million mark. The percentage of foreign representation is highest at the doctoral level in S&E fields; in 2002, some 130,821, or nearly one-third, of all graduate students enrolled at US universities came from abroad (see Figure 1-1). 1 National Science Board. 2004. Science and Engineering Indicators 2004 (NSB 04-1). Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, p. O-12. 2 Gregory Attiyeh and Richard Attiyeh. 1997. “Testing for bias in graduate school admissions.” Journal of Human Resources 32(3):524-548. See discussion later in this Chapter.
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States TABLE 1-1 Number of US S&E PhDs Awarded by Selected Country of Citizenship, 1966, 1976, 1986, 1996, and 2003a 1966 % of Total % of Temporary Residents 1976 % of Total % of Temporary Residents China 84 0.7 5.2 20 0.1 0.7 India 338 3.0 20.8 532 2.9 19.3 S. Korea 73 0.6 4.5 147 0.8 5.3 Taiwan 168 1.5 10.3 544 3.0 19.8 Japan 51 0.4 3.1 91 0.5 3.3 Pakistan 42 0.4 2.6 29 0.2 1.1 Total: Asia 6 756 6.7 46.5 1363 7.5 49.6 Germany (*) 28 0.2 1.7 36 0.2 1.3 United Kingdom (#) 83 0.7 5.1 123 0.7 4.5 Italy 7 0.1 0.4 24 0.1 0.9 France 9 0.1 0.6 35 0.2 1.3 Israel 60 0.5 3.7 80 0.4 2.9 Ireland 3 0.0 0.2 7 0.0 0.3 Total: Europe 6 159 1.4 9.8 262 1.4 9.5 Total PhDs Awarded 11334 18250 Total PhDs Awarded to Temporary Residents 1627 14.3 2750 15.1 aData from National Science Foundation. 2004. Survey of Earned Doctorates 2002. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation. (*) Germany includes East Germany, West Germany, and East and West Berlin. (#) UK includes Wales, Great Britain, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England. Despite the growing presence of international S&E graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, the data gathered by different sources on their numbers and activities are difficult to compare (see Box 1-1), permitting only an approximate picture of their career status and contributions. For example, few analyses accurately describe their impact on higher education, their research contributions to US industry (if they stay in the United States), or their accomplishments abroad (if they do not stay).3 Nonetheless, the 3 Terence K. Kelly, et al. 2004. The U.S. Scientific and Technical Workforce: Improving Data for Decisionmaking. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States 1986 % of Total % of Temporary Residents 1996 % of Total % of Temporary Residents 2003 % of Total % of Temporary Residents 223 1.2 5.3 3074 11.3 38.8 2559 10.2 30.9 524 2.8 12.6 1324 4.9 16.7 801 3.2 9.7 417 2.2 10.0 987 3.6 12.4 972 3.9 11.7 809 4.4 19.4 1198 4.4 15.1 478 1.9 5.8 113 0.6 2.7 153 0.6 1.9 187 0.7 2.3 65 0.4 1.6 92 0.3 1.2 34 0.1 0.4 2151 11.6 51.5 6828 25.0 86.1 5031 20.0 60.8 63 0.3 1.5 171 0.6 2.2 196 0.8 2.4 84 0.5 2.0 116 0.4 1.5 114 0.5 1.4 48 0.3 1.1 75 0.3 0.9 111 0.4 1.3 38 0.2 0.9 70 0.3 0.9 89 0.4 1.1 92 0.5 2.2 80 0.3 1.0 55 0.2 0.7 16 0.1 0.4 29 0.1 0.4 26 0.1 0.3 262 1.4 6.3 341 1.3 4.3 591 2.4 7.1 18450 27275 25121 4174 22.5 7929 29.1 8276 32.9 high level of participation of foreign-born scientists and engineers in US laboratories and classrooms warrants increased efforts to understand this phenomenon and to ensure that policies regarding their movement and activities are adequate. This chapter summarizes some of the effects of international scientists and engineers on the US S&E enterprise, economy, national security, and other national interests.
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States FIGURE 1-1 Total full-time and first-year S&E graduate enrollments, 1982-2002. SOURCE: National Science Foundation. 2004. Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering 2002. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation. Enrollment numbers include medical fields. TRENDS IN INTERNATIONAL GRADUATE-STUDENT ENROLLMENTS AND POSTDOCTORAL APPOINTMENTS The total number of S&E graduate students in US institutions has grown consistently over the last several decades; within that trend, the share of international graduate students has risen from 23.4 percent in 1982 to 34.5 percent in 2002 (see Figure 1-1). In 2002, international students received 19.5 percent of all doctorates awarded in the social and behavioral sciences, 18.0 percent in the life sciences, 35.4 percent in the physical sciences, and 58.7 percent in engineering4 (see Figure 1-2). A recent study further delineates the changing demographics of graduate students in US institutions. In 1966, US-born males accounted for 71 percent of science and engineering PhD graduates, and 6 percent were awarded to US-born females; 23 percent of doctoral recipients were foreign-born. In 2000, 36 percent of doctoral recipients were US-born males, 4 Data are from the National Science Foundation. 2004. Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering (GSS) 2002. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation. Taxonomies are those of the GSS. Life sciences include biological sciences, agricultural sciences, and health fields; social sciences include psychology; and physical sciences include physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, and earth sciences.
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States BOX 1-1 Data Sources on Graduate Enrollment and Postdoctoral Appointments At least four organizations conduct graduate-enrollment surveys, but their results are difficult to compare. The National Science Foundation (NSF) fields the Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering (also known as the Graduate Student Survey, or GSS). The Department of Education fields the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS); the International Institute of Education (IIE), the Open Doors survey; and the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), the Graduate Enrollments and Degrees Survey. The surveys use different sampling methods and request different information. IPEDS uses institutional and student self-reported data. NSF, CGS, and IIE use institutional questionnaires; questions cannot be easily compared. The definition of graduate student differs: IIE reports on all master’s, doctoral, and first professional degrees; CGS includes only master’s and doctoral degrees and differentiates by field, degree, and institutional type; IPEDS provides similar but more comprehensive data. NSF surveys graduate departments and counts only master’s and doctoral program enrollment and doctoral degrees. Institutional coverage differs between surveys. Separate fields of study cannot be compared, because some surveys do not report on specific fields, and surveys that do may use different taxonomies. The most recent complete data from IIE are on the graduate class that entered in 2003; 2002 data are available from NSF, CGS, and IPEDS. For this report, we are using enrollment data available from the NSF Division of Science Resources Statistics WebCASPAR database system, http://caspar.nsf.gov. We used the IPEDS Completion Survey to examine master’s degree recipients. Numbers of postdoctoral scholars are available from the GSS. That survey does not provide much demographic information and it provides no information on where the scholars received a doctoral degree. The NSF Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) provides some information on the proportion of graduate students who intend to go on to postdoctoral appointments, and the NSF Survey of Doctoral Recipients (SDR) provides longitudinal information on careers and conversion to citizenship. However, both the SED and the SDR follow only postdoctoral scholars who earned their PhDs in the United States. For postdoctoral scholars who came to the United States after earning a degree elsewhere—which some estimate at about 50 percent of the total postdoctoral population—there is very little information. We turned to the Sigma Xi National Postdoctoral Survey to get information on this population, but the survey was fielded only in 2004, so longitudinal data are not available. 25 percent US-born females, and 39 percent foreign-born.5 Among postdoctoral scholars, the participation rate among temporary residents 5 R.B. Freeman, E. Jin, and C-Y. Shen. 2004. Where Do New US-trained Science-Engineering PhDs Come From? (Working Paper Number 10544). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economics Research.
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States FIGURE 1-2 Enrollments by field, citizenship, and institutional type. SOURCE: National Science Foundation. 2004. Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering 2002. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation. has increased from 37.4 percent in 1982 to 58.8 percent in 2002 (see Figure 1-3). Similarly, the share of foreign-born faculty who earned their doctoral degrees at US universities has increased from 11.7 percent in 1973 to 20.4 percent in 1999. In engineering fields, the share increased from 18.6 percent to 34.7 percent in the same period.6 6 National Science Board. 2004. Science and Engineering Indicators 2004 (NSB 04-2). Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, Appendix Table 5-24. Available at http://www.nsf.gov/sbe/srs/seind02/append/c5/at05-24.xls.
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States Quality of International Graduate Students How can quality of international graduate students be assessed? Several factors play a substantial role in graduate-student admissions decisions. Among them are selectivity of the institution, applicant Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores and undergraduate grade point average, undergraduate major, prior research experience, and quality of the applicant’s undergraduate institution. The match between the research interests of the applicant and those of departmental faculty also plays a role. Studies show that many admissions committees make implicit adjustments in the GRE verbal score for applicants from non-English-speaking coun-
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States FIGURE 1-3 Academic postdoctoral-scholar appointments in S&E, 1983-2002. SOURCE: National Science Foundation. 2004. Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering 2002. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation. Medical fields are included, but postdoctoral scholars with medical degrees (presumably acting as physicians) are excluded from the analysis. tries.7 Furthermore, GRE scores offer admissions committees a way to compensate when other measures of quality may not be readily available.8 Whether GRE scores predict success in graduate programs is a subject of some debate. GRE test scores and undergraduate grades have been shown to have similar predictive power for first-year academic success but not necessarily beyond that.9 One measure is to examine enrollments of temporary residents vs citizens and permanent residents in top-ranked graduate programs, which presumably have their pick of the top-ranked candidates, and enrollments at less highly ranked programs. During the 1990s, when overall domestic-student enrollments in S&E graduate programs were decreasing, were top-ranked programs and less highly ranked programs differentially affected? If 7 Attiyeh and Attiyeh. 1997. Ibid; MaryBeth Walpole, Nancy Burton, Kamau Kanyi, and Altamese Jackenthal. 2002. Selecting Successful Graduate Students: In-Depth Interviews With GRE Users (ETS Research Report 02-08). Princeton NJ: Educational Testing Service. 8 Phillip K. Oltman and Rodney T. Hartnett. 1984. The Role of GRE General and Subject Test Scores in Graduate Program Admissions (ETS Research Report 84-14). Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service. 9 Lisa M. Schneider and Jacqueline B. Briel. 1990. Validity of the GRE: 1988-1989 Summary Report. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service; RJ Sternberg and WM Williams. 1997. “Does the Graduate Record Examination predict meaningful success in the graduate training of psychologists? A case study.” American Psychologist 52(6): 630-41.
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States domestic students are of higher quality than international students, one would expect (1) proportionately more domestic students in higher-tier graduate programs, which presumably have their pick of students and which students, given the choice, would prefer to attend; (2) a majority of domestic students in higher-tier programs; and (3) under tight supply conditions for domestic students, such as engineering in the late 1990s, an exacerbated difference between higher- and lower-tier programs, so that even fewer domestic students are enrolled in the lower-tier programs. Using program assessments from the 1995 National Research Council study, Research Doctorate Programs in the United States: Continuity and Change,10 graduate programs in three fields—electrical engineering (EE), biochemistry (BC), and physics (P)—were divided into top-tier (first quartile) and bottom-tier (fourth quartile). Program enrollments from 1992 to 2002 were obtained from National Science Foundation (NSF) data.11 Means ± standard deviations were calculated among programs in each quartile. In the few cases where graduate programs from the Research Council study did not match the NSF departmental data, these programs were excluded from the analysis. Each quartile included 20-30 programs. The analysis showed that the difference between top- and bottom-tier graduate programs was not statistically significant. For all three fields examined, both top- and bottom-tier programs started the 1990s with about 60 percent domestic students; the proportions decreased similarly throughout the 1990s. One generalizable difference between first- and fourth-quartile programs was the standard deviation of the domestic-student enrollments. First-quartile program enrollments showed a smaller standard deviation for all years than fourth-quartile programs (EE: 1stQ, 18.3-21.3 percent, 4thQ, 18.4-25.3 percent; BC: 1stQ, 14.0-17.4 percent, 4thQ 21.0-28.4 percent; P: 1stQ 15.7-19.5 percent, 4thQ 17.7-29.0 percent). Because the percentage of domestic students does not vary with program quality and this was not affected by tight supply, one can argue that the quality of domestic graduate students is not higher than that of international students. A caveat: if graduate programs fix, as a matter of policy, the percentage of admissions of domestic students, the proportions may not be a good measure of student quality. The committee found evidence that graduate-program admissions favor domestic students12 but found no evidence that outright percentages had been established. 10 National Research Council. 1995. Research Doctorate Programs in the United States: Continuity and Change. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. 11 National Science Foundation. 2004. Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering (GSS) 2002. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation. 12 Attiyeh and Attiyeh. 1997. Ibid.
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States Other research has shown differences in performance between international and domestic S&E researchers working in the United States.13 While no significant difference was found in the number of grants, dollar amount of grants, or success rates in obtaining grants, in both normal and fractional count of publications, international scientists were consistently more productive than their domestic counterparts. These differences may be due to a strong incentive among international scientists to engage in research. Even if these international scientists were interested in activities or jobs other than research, their chances of getting them were lower than for domestic scientists.14 Recent Trends in International Graduate-Student Enrollments For doctorate-granting institutions, total enrollment of international S&E graduate students increased dramatically between 2000 and 2002. In 2002, 55.5 percent of international S&E graduate students were enrolled at Research I (R1) universities; R1s also enrolled the highest proportion (26.0 percent) of international students (see Figure 1-4). Institutions enrolling the largest numbers of international S&E graduate students are shown in Figures 1-5 and 1-6. First-time enrollments of international S&E graduate students have been tracked only since 2000 by NSF and since 2002 by CGS, and data from both sources are available only to 2002.15 It is therefore difficult to ascertain trends after 2002. In 2002, NSF noted a decrease in first-time full-time S&E graduate enrollments among temporary residents, by about 8 percent for men and 1 percent for women.16 At the same time, first-time full-time S&E graduate-student enrollment increased by almost 14 percent for US citizens and permanent residents—15 percent for men and more than 12 percent for women. 13 S. Lee. 2004. Foreign-born Scientists in the United States: Do They Perform Differently than Native-born Scientists? Doctoral Dissertation, School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology. These data pertain to researchers working in NSF-funded research centers, a specific population that may not be generalizable. 14 H. Choi. 1995. An International Scientific Community: Asian Scholars in the United States. Westport, CT: Praeger; Joyce Tang. 2000. Doing Engineering. The Career Attainment and Mobility of Caucasian, Black, and Asian American Engineers. Lanham, MD: Bowman and Littlefield Publishers. 15 As of April, 2005, CGS has published snapshot data on graduate applications, admissions, and enrollments for 2003 and 2004, and applications for 2005. The complete data for 2003 were not yet compiled, and 2004 enrollment data were not fully collected. 16 National Science Foundation. 2004. Graduate Enrollment in Science and Engineering Fields Reaches New Peak; First-Time Enrollment of Foreign Students Declines (NSF 04-326). Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation.
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States FIGURE 1-4 Enrollment of international graduate students by institutional type. SOURCE: Data are from the Council of Graduate Schools CGS/GRE Graduate Enrollment and Degrees annual surveys from 1992-2002. Available at http://www.cgsnet.org/VirtualCenterResearch/graduateenrollment.htm. The CGS enrollment numbers include all major S&E fields, as well as business, education, humanities and arts, and public administration and services. The non-S&E fields have 3 and 17 percent enrollment of international students. CGS states, “Institution type was a major differentiating variable in the enrollment of non-US students, reflecting the concentration of international students in doctoral programs in science and engineering.” The decline in first-time international graduate-student applications has stimulated considerable discussion (see Box 1-2) and more than a few warnings that our national S&E capacity may have begun to weaken. The picture for international graduate-student total full-time enrollments is different. For 2002, NSF reported an 8 percent gain in temporary residents enrolled in S&E graduate programs. That gain is smaller than for the previous 2 years (12 percent and 9 percent), but 2002 total full-time enrollment levels exceeded the annual gains for most other years during the last two decades. What is the meaning of the declining first-time enrollment numbers for international S&E graduate students? Several interpretations seem plausible. First, the decline began from an enrollment peak that followed the atypical economic conditions of the late 1990s. One cause of the rising international enrollment of the 1990s may have been the lure of jobs in dot.com industries. Access to US jobs for foreign-born people is often much better for those who have been educated in the United States. Enrollments
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States FIGURE 1-19 Plans to stay in the United States after earning doctorate, by field of study. SOURCE: National Science Foundation. 2004. Survey of Earned Doctorates 2002. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation.
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States FIGURE 1-20 Changes in US citizenship among US-awarded doctorates in S&E. SOURCE: National Science Foundation. 2004. Survey of Doctoral Recipients 2002. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation.
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States FIGURE 1-21 Plans of postdoctoral scholars to stay in the United States, 2004. SOURCE: Data are final results from 2004 Sigma Xi National Postdoctoral Survey. The question about settlement preference was asked of one-eighth of respondents, who were asked to score their interest on a scale of 0 = not at all, 1 = somewhat interested, and 2 = very interested. ate students would raise university patent grants by 6.0 percent and nonuniversity patent grants by 4.0 percent. Taken in the aggregate, enrollments of US graduate students had no detectable effect in their model.52 The authors concluded that bureaucratic hurdles in obtaining student visas may impede innovation if they decrease the inflow of international graduate students.53 An Impact Through “Exceptional” Contributions There is evidence that the foreign-born and foreign-educated, at least in the recent past, have made a disproportionate number of “exceptional” 52 Chelleraj et al. 2004. Ibid, pp. 27-28. The authors state, “Relatively open access to international students has allowed US universities to accept the brightest graduate students in science and engineering from all over the world. In turn, international graduate students contribute to innovation and patenting in S&E while domestic students do not in the aggregate. Presumably this is because international graduate students are more concentrated in such fields as S&E than are domestic students. Further because of work restrictions for international students, domestic students have greater opportunities to be employed in non-research activities in both university and non-university settings.” 53 Chelleraj et al. 2004. Ibid, p. 2.
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States contributions to the S&E enterprise of the United States.54 Figure 1-22 shows that since 1990, almost half the US Nobel laureates in science fields were foreign-born; 37 percent received their graduate education abroad. A surprisingly large percentage of foreign-born scientists and engineers working in the United States were educated (at least in part) abroad, suggesting that the United States has benefited from investments in education made by other countries. More recent data (for example, the 2004 elections to the National Academies) suggest that a transition may be under way and that these conclusions concerning the foreign-born may not hold in the future. Impact on Industry The impact of international scientists and engineers on US industries, as measured by their presence, seems to be considerable. Skilled immigrants are highly mobile, and one study concludes that most technology industries in which they are concentrated are fast-growing exporters and leading contributors to the nation’s economic growth.55 At IBM Research and Intel, for example, about one-third of the S&E doctoral-level employees are foreign nationals.56 Up to half the researchers in US automotive industry laboratories are foreign-born.57 According to one of the few available studies, 32 percent of all new PhDs with definite plans to work in US industry are temporary residents at the time of graduation. That is about the same as the proportion of temporary residents in the population of new PhDs. The proportion of temporary residents going into industry is highest in mathematics (43 percent), civil engineering (42 percent), electrical engineering (41 percent), mechanical engineering (40 percent), and computer science (38 percent). The largest 54 Paula E. Stephan and Sharon G. Levin. “Foreign scholars in U.S. science: Contributions and costs.” In: Science and the University, eds. Ronald Ehrenberg and Paula Stephan. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press (forthcoming). The authors use six criteria to indicate “exceptional” contributions (not all contributions) in S&E: individuals elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and/or National Academy of Engineering (NAE), authors of citation classics, authors of hot papers, the 250 most cited authors, authors of highly cited patents, and scientists who have played a key role in launching biotechnology firms. 55 AnnaLee Saxenian. 2001. Silicon Valley’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs (Working Paper No. 15). San Diego, CA: Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, University of California. Available at http://www.ccis-ucsd.org/PUBLICATIONS/wrkg15.PDF. 56 William R. Pulleyblank, director, Exploratory Server Systems, IBM Research, presentation to committee, July 19, 2004; Jeff Wheeler, staffing market intelligence, Intel, presentation to committee, July 19, 2004. 57 William Agnew, Director of Program and Plans (retired), General Motors. Summary of interviews with several high-level R&D directors from large global automotive companies, presented to committee, October 8, 2004.
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States FIGURE 1-22 Exceptional contributions: US Nobel Laureates’ place of birth and country of graduate education. SOURCE: Data from “Chronology of Nobel Prize winners in Physics, Chemistry, and Physiology or Medicine.” Nobel e-Museum—The official Web site of the Nobel Foundation. Available at http://www.nobel.se/index.html. Note that one laureate in chemistry had two PhDs. number of foreign industrial hires among new PhDs came from China (nearly 10 percent of all industrial hires) and India (more than 8 percent of industrial hires). That is consistent with research that indicates high stay rates of PhDs from China and India.58 58 Grant Black and Paula Stephan. “The importance of foreign PhDs to US science.” In: Science and the University, eds. Ronald Ehrenberg and Paula Stephan. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press (forthcoming).
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States IMPACT OF INTERNATIONAL GRADUATE STUDENTS AND POSTDOCTORAL SCHOLARS ON NATIONAL SECURITY As we have seen, the S&E enterprise is increasingly multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and global. The US system of higher education that is generally admired by the rest of the world depends on the close interplay between research and education and the broad dissemination of scholarly work. Academic research thrives on the serendipitous discoveries arising from casual access and cross-disciplinary collaboration. The system of competitive peer review, widely acknowledged to promote excellence, requires open and transparent communication. One challenge faced by policy makers is to balance the necessary openness with the need for national security in ways that maintain the productive environment of research and education. To ensure adequate human resources in fields important for homeland security, in Making the Nation Safer, the National Research Council recommended that there be a human resource development program, similar to the National Defense Education Act.59 National weapons laboratories have instituted specific programs to recruit and hire critically skilled people to staff nuclear-stockpile stewardship programs, for which US citizenship is a primary consideration, including graduate and postdoctoral internship programs, programs involving local high schools and universities, and provision of support for current employees to gain additional training. A recent report indicates these programs are a major reason that these laboratories do not have significant problems locating the necessary people to fill critical-skills positions.60 The committee considered additional national security issues but data are not available on what additional risks, if any, an international student may pose versus a domestic student, particularly now that SEVIS and Visas Mantis security screens have been deployed. Certainly, there are inherent risks in relying on international students to fill the nation’s critical S&E positions. As we have witnessed with the tightening of US border security (see Chapter 2), the availability of international scientists and engineers for graduate student, postdoctoral, and other research positions can diminish rapidly. In addition, in periods of international tension, students and scholars who are in the United States on temporary visas may decide to leave. 59 National Research Council. 2002. Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. 60 Government Accountability Office. 2005. National Nuclear Security Administration: Contractors’ Strategies to Recruit and Retain and Critically Skilled Workforce Are Generally Effective (GAO-05-164). Washington, DC: GAO.
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States Limitations on the access to international students and scholars may have an adverse impact on the ability to attract the best research talent for the basic research underpinning US national security. The presence of international students and scholars in our academic institutions has prompted some funding agencies to attempt to limit who may participate in research projects.61 Additional concerns are prompted by export-control regulations on research (see Chapter 2). Most university research is published fundamental research that is exempt from export-control restrictions. Any research that is not openly published would be subject to the restrictions and require a license for the involvement of international students and collaborators from some countries and for some technologies. A 2005 NRC report62 listed visa problems, restrictive contracts, and export controls as particularly critical to US Department of Defense (DoD) research in engineering and the physical, mathematics, and computer sciences, and recommended that National Security Decision Directive 189 be recognized in DoD basic research contracts. Another NRC report has recommended that international postdoctoral scholars be eligible for federal training grants and fellowships.63 If restrictions on research and the processes to pursue it become too onerous, international scientists may choose to work in other nations, depriving the United States of their contributions to combat broad threats to national security, such as the spread of infectious disease. The international response to the worldwide epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) highlighted the globalization of research and the need to maintain the mobility of the best researchers so that they are free to address such challenges.64 The World Health Organization coordinated an international effort by 13 laboratories in 10 countries that identified in 1 month the new pathogen that caused SARS. Clearly, a feat of such complexity could not have been accomplished without international scientific collaboration and interaction. 61 Julie T. Norris. 2003. Restrictions on Research Awards: Troublesome Clauses. A Report of the AAU/COGR Task Force. Washington, DC: OSTP. This report was requested of the Association of American Universities and the Council on Governmental Relations by the Office of Science and Technology Policy and is based on surveys conducted during spring and summer 2003. 62 National Research Council. 2005. Assessment of Department of Defense Basic Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. 63 National Research Council. 2005. Bridges to Independence: Fostering the Independence of New Investigators in Biomedical Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. 64 Alice P. Gast. 2004. “The impact of restricting information access on science and technology.” In: A Little Knowledge: Privacy, Security, and Public Information after September 11, eds. Peter M. Shane, John Podesta, and Richard C. Leone. New York: The Century Foundation.
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States The value of international scientific exchange in our increasingly interdependent world is of utmost importance. The controls used to regulate international travel of students and scholars, including the technology alert list (TAL), export controls, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), and Visas Mantis security checks have been implemented to reduce any potential security risks to the United States posed by international visitors. However, such potential gains in security come at a high cost. The controls have created an unwelcoming atmosphere and are eroding trust with our colleagues around the world. Special efforts need to be made to ensure international visitors do feel welcome in the face of these necessary security measures. If the cancellation of conferences and loss of collaborations continues, the United States may lose its traditional role as a convening power, and this would have grave and lasting consequences.65 IMPACT ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS The exchange of students among countries is considered a central feature of international relations and foreign policy by US government leaders, as illustrated by the following statements: The relationships that are formed between individuals from different countries, as part of international education programs and exchanges, can also foster goodwill that develops into vibrant, mutually beneficial partnerships among nations.66 –President Bush, 2001 America’s educational institutions attract talented future leaders from around the world. International students and scholars benefit from engagement with our society and academic institutions and we benefit enormously from their interaction with our society as they help our citizens develop understanding and knowledge that enriches our lives, increases international cooperation, enhances our national security, and improves our economic competitiveness.67 –Secretary of State Colin Powell, 2004 65 See Jane Lubchenco and Goverdhan Mehta. 2004. “International scientific meetings.” Science 305:1531; and “Organizing an international meeting in the United States.” International Visitors Office Web page, National Academies Board on International Scientific Organizations, http://www7.nationalacademies.org/visas/Organizing_a_Meeting.html. 66 George W. Bush. 2001. Statement for International Education Week 2001 (November 13), http://exchanges.state.gov/iew2001/message.htm. 67 Colin L. Powell. 2004. Statement for International Education Week 2004 (October 15), http://exchanges.state.gov/iew/statements/powell.htm. 68 “Foreign Students Yesterday, World Leaders Today.” Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, US Department of State. Available at http://exchanges.state.gov/education/educationusa/leaders.htm.
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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States According to the committee’s analysis of responses to the Pew Global Attitudes Survey (see Appendix C), people who admire US science and technology and who visit the United States improve their attitude toward the United States substantially. Similarly, returnees who assume leadership positions at home may become strong foreign-policy and national-security assets for the United States. Scientists and engineers who have been educated here often return home with an appreciation of the egalitarian values of scientific research, democratic values, and the productivity of a vibrant capitalist economy. For example, among allies who have participated in an educational exchange program in the United States are Afghani President Hamid Karzai, Philippines President Gloria Arroyo, French President Jacques Chirac, King Abdullah of Jordan, Mexican President Vicente Fox, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.68 Of course, one may cite examples of foreign students who find US culture offensive or have even become outright enemies of the United States or of Western culture. Historically, however, science has served as a bridge between nations and a means of communication that can transcend political barriers. A notable example was the continuing exchange of American and Soviet scientists throughout the Cold War.69 CONCLUSION The participation of international graduate students and postdoctoral scholars is an important part of the research enterprise of the United States. In some fields they make up more than half the populations of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. If their presence were substantially diminished, important research and teaching activities in academe, industry, and federal laboratories would be curtailed, particularly if universities did not give more attention to recruiting and retaining domestic students. The next two chapters will consider national policies and exogenous factors that are likely to influence their participation. 69 Joseph S. Nye, Jr. 2004. “You can’t get here from there.” The New York Times (November 29).
Representative terms from entire chapter: