and engineering. We expect our graduate scientists and engineers to continue the expansion of fundamental knowledge and to make that knowledge useful in the world. A world of work that has become more interdisciplinary, collaborative, and global requires that we produce young people who are adaptable and flexible, as well as technically proficient.
The US system of graduate education in science and engineering is arguably the most effective system yet devised for advanced training in these fields. By carrying out graduate education in institutions where a large portion of the nation's best research is done, the universities have created a research and training system for scientists and engineers that is one of the nation's great strengths.
The present US system of graduate education evolved when the demand for research was either stable or rising. The national-security demands of the Cold War and domestic priorities, such as health, stimulated and supported a strong science and technology infrastructure, including graduate education. Our dominant economic and technological position in the world allowed us to exert clear international leadership and permitted us to influence both the progress of science and the rate of technology development and introduction.
That situation is now changing. The end of the Cold War, the rapid growth of international competition in technology-based industries, and a variety of constraints on research spending have altered our market for scientists and engineers. Furthermore, the United States has traditionally opened its doors to students from other countries. In recent years, the number of foreign science and engineering students enrolled in US graduate schools and the number receiving PhDs have risen unusually rapidly.
The demand for scientists and engineers has remained strong. However, there are indications that there is a slowdown in the growth of university positions and that we can expect a fundamental change in science and engineering employmenta reduction in the demand for traditional researchers in some fields. This employment situation has already contributed to a frustration of expectations among new PhDs. Major industrial sectors have also reassessed their needs and reshaped their research, development, and business strategies. And new research and development needs have arisen in emerging production, service, and information enterprises. The increasing rate of change suggests a need for scientists and engineers who can readily adapt to continuing changes.
Government laboratories and other facilities are also undergoing change. In some instances, research and development foci are shifting. In others, government and its contractor scientists and engineers are being challenged to build linkages with industry and universities. Some departments and agencies are reorganizing and shrinking. Moreover, government spending on research and development is expected to be constrained in the next few years. That places direct pressure on research and development performed by universities and government and indirect pressure on research and development performed by industry under government