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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.