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ate Record Exam quantitative scale (above 750) heading to graduate school in the natural sciences and engineering was 31% percent higher than in 1998. That group had declined by 21% in the previous 6 years.64

There is still ample reason for concern about the future. A number of analysts expect to see a leveling off of the number of US-born students in graduate programs. If the number of foreign-born graduate students decreases as well, absent some substantive intervention, the nation could have difficulty meeting its need for scientists and engineers.


Science thrives on the open exchange of information, on collaboration, and on the opportunity to build on previous work. The United States gained and maintained its preeminence in science and engineering in part by embracing the values of openness and by welcoming students and researchers from all parts of the world to America’s shores. Openness has never been unqualified, of course, and the nation actively seeks to prevent its adversaries from acquiring scientific information and technology that could be used to do us harm. Scientists and engineers are citizens too, and those communities recognize both their responsibility and their opportunity to help protect the United States, as they have in the past. This has been done by harnessing the best science and engineering to help counter terrorism and other national security threats, even though that could mean accepting some limitations on research and its dissemination.65

But now concerns are growing that some measures put in place in the wake of September 11, 2001, seeking to increase homeland security, will be ineffective at best and could in fact hamper US economic competitiveness and prosperity.66 New visa restrictions have had the unintended consequence of discouraging talented foreign students and scholars from coming here to work, study, or participate in international collaborations. Fortunately, the federal agencies responsible for these restrictions have recently implemented changes.67 Of principal concern now are other forms of disincentive:


W. Zumeta and J. S. Raveling. “The Market for PhD Scientists: Discouraging the Best and Brightest? Discouraging All?” AAAS Symposium, February 16, 2004. Press release available at:


See, for example, National Research Council. Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2002.


Letter from the Presidents of the National Academies to Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, June 24, 2005. Available at:


The National Academies. Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2005. Pp. 56-57.

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