Friday, November 12, 2004

 

And so it begins...

This is not good news. For some years now, more and more of the students pursuing graduate degrees in American universities, especially in the sciences and engineering, have been from foreign countries. Fewer and fewer Americans are interested in, or capable of, advanced study and research in these fields. And, since it is our dominance in science and engineering that has been the principal motor behind our economic growth (since we stopped being able to rely on simple exploitation of our once-vast natural resources), anything that may lessen that dominance in science and engineering is a really bad thing.
Foreign grad students in U.S. down

Officials worry about losing market U.S. has enjoyed for years


WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The number of foreign students pursuing advanced degrees at U.S. universities fell this year, strengthening a trend that began after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to a report released on Wednesday.

"This survey confirms, as we have suspected for some time, that most of the nation's leading research universities are experiencing declines in international graduate enrollment," said Nils Hasselmo, president of the Association of American Universities. "The major factors are U.S. visa policy, increased international competition and perceptions that the United States is no longer a welcoming country," he said.

The survey conducted by five higher education organizations led by the Association of International Educators found that nearly half of the 480 colleges surveyed reported a decline in new enrollments of overseas graduate students compared to last year, while just under a quarter reported an increase. However, among schools with the greatest foreign enrollments -- some two dozen universities that each enroll 2,500 foreign students -- nearly two thirds reported falling numbers both of new and continuing graduate students. The report did not give raw numbers or quantify the decline in absolute terms.

University heads have been warning for some time that new, stringent security requirements put into place after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, have deterred large numbers of foreign students from coming to the United States. At least one of the Sept. 11 hijackers entered the country on a student visa. After that, Congress mandated the establishment of a computerized system in which all foreign students are registered and can be tracked.

Graduate school applications from international students declined 32 percent from 2003 to 2004, the Council of Graduate Schools reported earlier this year.

Foreign students and their dependents pump an estimated $13 billion a year into the U.S. economy. Even more importantly, education officials argue that talented graduate students, especially in engineering, science and technology, bring invaluable talent to the United States.

Marlene Johnson of the Association of International Educators said the Bush administration was aware of the situation and was trying to address some of the obstacles discouraging or preventing legitimate scholars and students from coming to the United States. "The bad news is that, despite some positive signs, overall the numbers are still discouraging," she said. "We have to remember that losing this market is like losing a forest to fire. It happens very quickly."

The Department of Homeland Security said earlier this year there were some 580,000 students and 190,000 exchange visitors in this country. The top five countries sending foreign students were South Korea, India, China, Japan and Taiwan.

The survey found that Chinese and Korean students appeared to be coming to study in the United States in equal or greater numbers than before but the numbers from India, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia were down.
They are going to England, to Australia, to Canada, to Germany and France. They're not coming here.

I have little doubt that, 50 years from now, China and India will really be challenging us for economic domination. America can arrest our coming decline, but considering the trend in some states to require teaching Creationist doctrine alongside or even in place of evolution, I do not hold out much hope for America to seriously resist slipping down the world table of major scientific nations. Nor do I see anything "moral" about intentionally miring our young people in ignorance and eventual relative poverty and submission to other countries. But that's what's going to happen. Someday, we're going to be relying on jobs outsourced from India and China.
Comments:
A heartening thought on the attempt to reverse this trend. We are starting Project Lead The Way (I work in a school district) at our high school. It is a pre-engineering program and just about every school that has implemented it has seen their numbers jump in terms of kids taking advanced science/math courses.
 
That's an excellent start. We need that same program, or something similar, multiplied 10,000 times. I hope you will try to encourage colleagues at other schools to try to duplicate it.

But we also need national leadership on this. Bush has staked his entire educational future on No Child Left Behind; meanwhile, the entire damn country is being left behind.

We need action on the local level, but leadership that only a president can provide. Unfortunately, this president thinks the Earth is 6000 years old, which kind of limits what we can expect from him.
 
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Comments: "
A heartening thought on the attempt to reverse this trend. We are starting Project Lead The Way (I work in a school district) at our high school. It is a pre-engineering program and just about every school that has implemented it has seen their numbers jump in terms of kids taking advanced science/math courses.
 
" "
That's an excellent start. We need that same program, or something similar, multiplied 10,000 times. I hope you will try to encourage colleagues at other schools to try to duplicate it.

But we also need national leadership on this. Bush has staked his entire educational future on No Child Left Behind; meanwhile, the entire damn country is being left behind.

We need action on the local level, but leadership that only a president can provide. Unfortunately, this president thinks the Earth is 6000 years old, which kind of limits what we can expect from him.
 
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