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Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars in the United States
the country has made it more difficult for international students and scholars to come to the United States, in part because of the concern of some that they may receive education and training in sensitive US civilian and military technologic fields.8 Others argue that mobility restrictions will diminish US leadership in higher education and adversely affect American S&E expertise that is critical to national security and the growth of the economy.9
International students contribute to US society not only academically and economically, but also by fostering the global and cultural knowledge and understanding necessary for effective US leadership, competitiveness, and security. Some of the world’s most prominent leaders were educated in the United States.10 Secretary of State Colin Powell commented that “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.”11
The United States is not alone in seeking talented scientists and engineers. There is a global competition for the best S&E students and scholars. The European Union (EU) and China, among others, are increasing investments in S&E R&D infrastructure. The EU has created explicit regional policies to improve the climate for international scientists and engineers, and individual nations—including the United Kingdom and Canada—actively recruit international graduate students to their universities.
At the same time that the United States faces increasing competition
Offices of Inspector General of the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, and State, and Central Intelligence Agency. 2004. Interagency Review of Foreign National Access to Sensitive Technology Report No. D-2004-062. Washington, DC:OIG.
In a speech on the impact of terrorism delivered at the State University of New York, Sherwood Boehlert, chair of the House Science Committee, stated: “Foreign students who remain here are absolutely critical elements of our science and technology workforce, and those who return home often increase the goodwill toward the United States in their home countries.” (Speech to SUNY Presidents on the Impact of Terrorism on R&D, http://www.house.gov/science). Also, President George W. Bush has stated: “The United States benefits greatly from international students who study in our country. The United States Government shall continue to foster and support international students.” Homeland Security Presidential Directive 2, October 29, 2001.
US educational and exchange programs have produced over 40 Nobel prize honorees, among them current UN Secretary Kofi Annan; 46 current and 165 former heads of government and chiefs of state came here to study as exchange visitors. Allen E. Goodman. 2002. “Rethinking Foreign Students.” National Review (June 18).