Losing Our Intellectual Edge

Wednesday, December 22, 2004 | 06:08 AM


We've addressed this several times over the past year:  Initially, last January (Is the balance of scientific power shifting?) and then again in October (Economics, Security, and the Decline of the US Creative Class).

Now, the story is on the front page of the NYT:  U.S. Slips in Attracting the World's Best Students. Here's an excerpt:

"What we're starting to see in terms of international students now having options outside the U.S. for high-quality education is just the tip of the iceberg," said David G. Payne, an executive director of the Educational Testing Service, which administers several tests taken by foreign students to gain admission to American universities. "Other countries are just starting to expand their capacity for offering graduate education. In the future, foreign students will have far greater opportunities."

Foreign students contribute $13 billion to the American economy annually. But this year brought clear signs that the United States' overwhelming dominance of international higher education may be ending. In July, Mr. Payne briefed the National Academy of Sciences on a sharp plunge in the number of students from India and China who had taken the most recent administration of the Graduate Record Exam, a requirement for applying to most graduate schools; it had dropped by half.

click for larger graphic

chart courtesy of NYT

The Times notes that while "foreign applications to American graduate schools declined 28 percent this year," actual foreign graduate student enrollments dropped 6 percent. Enrollments of all foreign students, in undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral programs, fell for the first time in three decades in an annual census released this fall.

Where are the students actualy going instead? "University enrollments have been surging in England, Germany and other countries."

I suspect sloppy administration of post 9/11 security rules are in large part to blame.



U.S. Slips in Attracting the World's Best Students
Sam Dillon
NY Times, December 21, 2004


Is the balance of scientific power shifting?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004 | 06:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack (1)
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Tracked on Dec 22, 2004 12:00:03 PM


On a related topic it's frequently asked why so few American-born students study the sciences. The answer usually given is that they're lazy. That's a lie. The actual answer is that it's difficult to prosper in the sciences here (except biomed). For a physicist to get a job in this country a physicist needs to die (or retire; but many physicists literally die in harness). That's been true for a generation or more. It's increasingly true for chemists as well (again, except in biomed).

The unemployment rate for electrical engineers in the U. S. is holding steady at around 8%. Discouraged engineers are working in fast-food joints or Wal-Mart to support their families.

American-born students are smart enough to go where the action is and it ain't the sciences.

Posted by: Dave Schuler | Dec 22, 2004 9:57:42 AM

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