U.S. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics: The Reverse Brain Drain

U.S. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics: The Reverse Brain Drain
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“A “reverse brain drain” is occurring in the American science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, but ideas to ease immigration laws are all over the map — and a passable consensus from Congress seems unlikely to emerge soon in a deeply divided capital. ”

“At a recent U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary subcommittee hearing, legislators, academics, and private-sector leaders discussed how the system can be changed to help keep the United States competitive globally in STEM fields. Ideas for keeping more foreign nationals in the country included attaching green cards to advanced STEM degrees, increasing the number of employment visas available, and eliminating the annual visa cap. Duke University professor Vivek Wadhwa recommended offering temporary visas to foreigners who have bought homes meeting a certain price threshold, and offering green cards to those who start companies that employ Americans. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has co-sponsored a bill that would eliminate the employment visa cap over a four-year period. Another bill includes several visa changes, including making it easier for immigrants who create businesses and employ Americans to stay in the country.”

“In her testimony to the subcommittee, Darla Whitaker, senior vice president for worldwide human resources at Texas Instruments, said her company employs a huge number of foreign nationals, partially because the number of qualified American graduates in STEM fields is insufficient.

At TI, 55 percent of electrical engineers who graduated from American colleges or universities with a master’s degree, and 63 percent with a Ph.D., are foreign nationals.

“TI didn’t choose the pool of graduates; we recruit from it,” she said.

But Lindsay Lowell, director of policy studies at the Institute for the Study of International Migration, told the subcommittee that there is little evidence that America’s educational pipeline produces too few domestic students able and willing to pursue a STEM career.”

Sources: Inside Higher Ed via ACM TechNews

Photos Credits: MIT media lab – eric schmidt By glemak / FlickR – MIT Student By kharied / FlickR