Brain Drain threatened

Over a year ago, we asked if "the balance of scientific power was shifting?" The major concern was that post September 11th, we were seeing international graduate student enrollments declining, and that could possibly lead to a technology sector "brain drain."

Those worries are apparently being realized:

The United States’ ability to attract graduate students from around the world continues to fade, with competition from abroad a likely culprit, according to a report released Wednesday. Graduate school applications from international students slipped 5 percent from 2004 to 2005, following a 28 percent decline last year, said the Council of Graduate Schools, a group of colleges and universities.

The report is sure to raise new concerns about U.S. leadership in the technology field, in part because foreigners historically have earned a large percentage of tech-related doctorates.

In a survey of its 450 U.S. members, the council found that 60 percent of responding graduate schools reported declines in international graduate applications. The council said declines were notable for students from China (down 13 percent) and India (down 9 percent), as well as for students in the fields of engineering (down 7 percent) and business (down 8 percent).

Unless this is corrected sooner rather than later, it is a very negative development . . .

Foreign-student enrollment declines
Ed Frauenheim
CNET, Wed Mar 09 12:14:00 PST 2005

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. james commented on Mar 9

    One thing I think that must also be considered is the fact that some of these potential students are opting to stay in their country given growth prospects at home…nobody seems to have mentioned this though…It would be interesting to compare trend of US enrollment of foreigners agains total Western enrollment of foreigners.

  2. john brown commented on Mar 10

    I’m an expat living in Sydney with 2 college aged kids who have attended separate universities, each decidely overflowing with Asian students. My son went to China for a while to teach English to Chinese dying to get into a/any western college. My daughter is still in Japan teaching English, also. My perspective is that Bush’s fear campaign chased out most international students from US universities. The Homeland Security regime presupposes that everyone is a terrorist. Your own grandmother is presumed to be carrying a bomb. Just try to to through any airport, and you are treated like a plague-carrying prison camp escapee. Foreigners are subjected to even greater scrutiny. Little wonder these students have voted with their visas to attend Australian and other non-US universities, where in many cases, such as Malaysia, they can get US denominated degrees from the “off shore campuses” of US colleges. It’s just one little backlash from the gestapo tactics of a Christian theocratic, fear mongering state that the US is becoming. Bush has made it clear that it has no friends in the world via his go it alone policy and dismissal of any multilatteral accommodation. You shouldn’t be surprised when people no longer turn up on your doorstep looking to break bread with you. But, hey, thanks. It’s helped underwrite Australian university education, helped keep Indian scientists at home and played into the hands of other Asian governments who are trying to stem their own brain drain and take up the competitive advantage of home-grown research.

  3. M1EK commented on Mar 10

    The dumbing down of this country into a provincial enclave of Christian fundamentalism, displayed by Bush’s abuse of the sciences in various government agencies, isn’t going to help things either. If I were a single college student today, I might look to Western Europe, and I’m an American with substantial incentive to stay at home.

  4. rich commented on Mar 12

    I look at this as a potentially positive development, albeit not for the US. Not taking the most talented students from developing countries could be one of the most effective methods for the developed world to aid the poor nations of the world.

  5. Go home foreigner commented on Mar 12

    Graduate students get paid to go to graduate school through research grants paid for by the American taxpayer. Shouldn’t therefore the American students get first pick at graduate school admission and the research grants as well.

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