Wednesday, November 16, 2005

'America's future is stuck overseas'

Stuart Anderson has an interesting op-ed in the New York Times, presenting a strong argument in favour of getting more foreign students into American universities.

... [W]ithout international students, certain science and engineering programs could not be offered at many American universities, because the foreign students populate classes and serve as teaching assistants. They also go on to supply faculty for those programs. About one-third of America's engineering professors are foreign-born.

Some of you have probably seen the latest statistics [link via Reuben] about the presence of foreign students in the US. There has been a steady decline since 9/11 that has made presidents of American universities sit up and take notice. Sometime last year, they asked for [sorry, no link!] a relaxation of visa policies (this year, there has certainly been an improvement in the visa procedures, and successful visa applications).

This op-ed, on the other hand, points out some of the other difficulties faced by foreign students once they get there for higher studies. In other words, visa procedures may have been the first trigger, but the current problems have been a result of many causes.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Stuart Anderson (the author of the Op Ed article) has not thought through the long term issues.

    Improving the visa process will only act as a band-aid on the problem of too few engineers. The process should be improved, and as an immigrant, I would not advocate an isolationist policy. However, improving the visa process does not address the underlying problem.

    Why do so american-born students choose engineering? And why so few in graduate school?

    The article mentions that some of the reduction is due to other countries competing for students. Some is due to the improvement in other economies.

    What is the USA going to do when we are no longer the place to go? Will the US economy end up in the toilet?

    I saw many Indians choose to leave the USA and return to India, even before 9/11. It is unnerving that so much of our economy might be resting on immigrants who can easily leave... especially when looking at an administration that seems bent on alienating anyone who doesn't fit their mold.

  2. Abi said...

    Anon: Thank you for voicing some concerns from the point of view of the US citizens. Unfortunately, I don't know the answers to your questions.

    I can tell you one thing, though; there may be other centres that are becoming attractive for higher education, but the US still remains (in spite of all the roadblocks that have been placed the US government since 9/11) the destination of choice for most Indians.