News / USA

Foreign Students Boost US Innovation

Study recommends foreign Ph.D students have easier path to U.S. green cards.
Study recommends foreign Ph.D students have easier path to U.S. green cards.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
Foreign students earning their doctoral degrees in the United States can help revitalize innovation and economic growth. A new study says the U.S. should make it easier for such students to enter and remain in the country.


Three economists gathered data on the contributions made by foreign students. The team was led by Keith Maskus, professor of economics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

“My interest was piqued quite a long time ago after September 11th, 2001. One of the reactions to that was that the United States decided for a period of about two or three years to make it much more difficult for students from particular regions of the world to enter the United States and study graduate programs, especially in science and engineering.”

He said, at the time, many in Washington and at universities warned that policy would hinder scientific development and innovation.

“And I thought, well, that’s very interesting, but do we really know if that’s true?”

So Maskus, along with Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak of Yale and Eric Stuen of the University of Idaho, gathered data – a lot of data.

“So what we did is got very detailed individual-level data on quite a large number of students – over 750,00 students, in fact – who had come to get Ph.Ds in the 100 top science and  engineering universities in the United States from the late 1970s to the late 1990s. And we had information about where they came from, [including] what their visa status was, what area they wrote their dissertations in and, of course, at which university,” he said.

The research indicated that diversity – a mix of American and foreign students -- can make a difference in productivity and efficiency.

“It seems to have something to do with the fact that networks and laboratory sciences [are] really a function of how the graduate students and the post- doctoral students and everyone else can specialize in some element of science – and also the fact that their undergraduate training and possibly some graduate training in whatever it is – mathematics or bench science or laboratory science – gives them different approaches to thinking about problems. And when these people can get together and bounce ideas off each other the sort of outcome of that is more dynamic intellectual process. And you get more ideas with having some diversity like that,” he said.

To get a U.S. visa, he said, students must demonstrate that either they or their family has enough money to pay for a substantial portion of their education. That’s even if the student’s education is paid for by a scholarship. He says the current philosophy is: you’re welcome to come and study in the U.S., but when you’re done you have to go home.

“We think that particular need to demonstrate this kind of income based ability to come to the United States is a little bit short-sighted. Our results show that you really ought to be more open to the highest quality students, regardless of their wealth or income back in their home countries. So that’s one thing. We would urge modification of American visa policy because of that,” said Maskus.

Another recommended change concerns permanent residence or green cards.

He said, “If you look at policy in other major importing countries, like Western Europe, Canada, Australia – these countries have gone down the road of dramatically increasing the access of what we call green cards -- they call permanent residence – to international students who do get Ph.Ds in science, technology and engineering fields, whether in their universities in those countries or maybe in the United States or in some of these other countries. For example, if you get a Ph.D in the United States, it becomes that much easier to become a permanent resident in Canada.”

Maskus and his colleagues say it would help the U.S. compete in the world if doctoral students had an easier time getting green cards. They say, currently, if those students want to remain in the U.S., they must find a local employer, who’ll work on their behalf to get a temporary visa.

“That does have the effect, we’re convinced, of pushing too many of these innovative people back outside the borders of the United States. So we argue for increasing the number of those visas and focusing on these students -- or even better -- just offering a very quick and straightforward process to permanent residence,” he said.

In their article in the journal Science, the authors say any innovation and economic growth gains would far outweigh any diminished job prospects for American workers.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs