Attracting the World's Best Graduate Students
Information compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated December 2010
As we continue examining Graduate Education: The Graduate Education: Backbone of American Competitiveness and Innovation, released in April 2007 by the Council of Graduate Schools' Advisory Committee on Graduate Education and American Competitiveness (CGS), we focus on the United State's need to attract the best and brightest graduate students from around the world.
Graduate education and global competition
Before the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States was one of the most popular countries in which to study and research, but afterwards, the enrollment of international students in U.S. graduate programs decreased significantly. However, what has increased is the number of international students studying the integral science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields at U.S. graduate schools.
According to the CGS, by 2005, international students accounted for 41.2 percent of all doctorates earned in the STEM fields. Even as the United States has modified its visa process, and as graduate schools attempt to market themselves to international students, the competition for top-ranked students has become a global one. Countries in Europe, and others like China and India, have implemented improvements in their higher education systems, and are working diligently to attract more and more students.
The competition between American graduate school programs and those in other countries is especially intense in the STEM fields. The United States does not want to fall behind other nations, particularly in the STEM fields that are so important to economic development, but according to the report, one-third of the STEM workforce in America is comprised of foreign-born workers, and foreign-born scientists have contributed a great deal of groundbreaking research.
The CGS report cites a study conducted by Duke University's Master of Engineering Management Program and the University of California Berkeley's School of Information that found that 24.2 percent of international patent application files from the United States were filed by foreign nationals. Given the interest and talent that international students have in the STEM fields, they are very attractive candidates for U.S. graduate schools. Without the contributions of international students on U.S. soil, the country's leadership in research could become compromised.
The United States as a study destination
The report released by CGS indicates that the government, universities and the business sector can help the United States attract not only domestic talent, but the best international students as well. One suggestion from the report is that the U.S. government should continue to make the visa process easier for international students who want to study in the country. The report further proposes that visa policies should be a part of strategic recruitment of international students for graduate schools in the United States.
Another possible way for the United States to stay competitive is if the country continues to work together with international students who return to their home countries after earning an American graduate degree. The government may also consider loosening up restrictions on graduate students' access to unclassified fundamental research. Policies could also be put in place to encourage international students to stay on and work in the United States after they graduate.
According to the report, the business sector should recognize what highly skilled international workers have to offer the economy on a local, regional and national level. The report suggests that university alumni programs can serve to keep international graduates connected to the United States. Universities can also collaborate with the government in bringing in more international students, scholars and STEM workers by reforming the visa process.
The United States does not want to lose its place as one of the most popular countries in which to attend graduate school. The research that graduate schools contribute to the STEM fields is integral to the competitiveness of the United States on a global scale. There are roles to be played by the government, graduate schools and businesses in order for the country to reach its lofty goals.
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