FIGURE 3-1 S&E doctorate production by country, 1975-2001.

SOURCE: National Science Board. 2004. Science and Engineering Indicators 2004 (NSB 04-1). Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, Table 5-30.

This chapter will examine the current strengths of the US S&E educational system and S&E enterprise and how they are now challenged by the increasingly global competition for S&E talent.


By virtually all indicators, the United States leads the world in S&E capacity. The strength of the US S&E enterprise rests on many advantages, including the diversity and stability of its S&E institutions, the strong tradition of public and private support for advanced education and research and development, the quality of its personnel, the prevalence of English as the language of S&E,3 a relatively open society in which talented people of any background have opportunities to succeed, and the United States’ global leadership in providing postdoctoral opportunities.4 A recent comparison


Philip G. Altbach, director, Center for International Higher Education, Boston College, presentation to committee, November 11, 2004.


Because the United States has far more postdoctoral opportunities than any other country and because postdoctoral training is now expected in many biomedical, physical-science, and other fields, the United States automatically attracts some of the world’s brightest young people, many of whom choose to stay permanently. Derek Scholes, chair, International Postdoctoral Committee, National Postdoctoral Association, presentation to committee, November 11, 2004.

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