Why America needs foreign students

Foreign nationals greatly outnumber U.S. students in EE grad schools.

Here's one more reason to give green cards to foreign graduate students.

They are the only ones in school.

U.S. citizens outnumber foreign nationals in undergraduate electrical engineering programs in U.S. universities by a wide margin, according to a report form the Engineering Workforce Commission of the American Association of Engineering Societies.

U.S. kids accounted for 89 percent of the undergrads in these programs in 2006.

But 51 percent of the students in masters programs in EE in U.S. universities were foreign nationals last year. Only 49 percent come from the states.

In PhD programs, foreign nationals made up 71 percent of the students in 2006.

On one level, you could argue that foreign nationals are taking spots that otherwise could have gone to U.S. citizens. But the drop off from undergrad indicates that 1) U.S. students aren't interested in graduate school or 2) aren't doing as well and can't get in. Either way, if the foreign nationals can get permanent residence, there's a better chance they might stay here after graduation.

Tech lobbying groups are trying to make it easier for foreign nationals to get visas.

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Tech Culture
About the author

    Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.

     

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