[Foreign students account] for 70.3 percent of all full-time graduate students in electrical engineering, 63.2 percent in computer science, 60.4 percent in industrial engineering, and more than 50 percent in chemical, materials and mechanical engineering, as well as in economics (a non-STEM field). However, the report, which analyzes National Science Foundation enrollment data from 2010 by field and institution, also shows that these striking averages mask even higher proportions at many individual universities. For example, there are 36 graduate programs in electrical engineering where the proportion of international students exceeds 80 percent, including seven where it exceeds 90.
This report comes at an opportune time in the congressional debate over the immigration bill. For all the good US graduate programs do in attracting highly skilled STEM students from around the world, US policy often drives these valuable immigrants away to developed countries with more welcoming immigration laws. American employers, for instance, reached the allotted H-1B (working) visa quota in under a week this year. That could mean thousands of foreign students being forced to leave the US for other countries, which will then reap the rewards of our educational system.Perhaps it’s time we capitalize on the talent we have helped to cultivate.[College campus photo courtesy of Getty Images]