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  • The United Kingdom’s points-based Highly Skilled Migrant Programme, which began in the mid-1990s, has increased the number of work permits issued to skilled workers.

  • The Irish government permits relatively easy immigration of skilled workers in information technology and biotechnology through intra-company transfers from non-Irish to Irish locations.

  • Several EU countries and the EU itself have programs that facilitate networking among students and researchers working abroad, providing contact information, collaborative possibilities, and funding and job opportunities in the EU. The German Academic Exchange Service has launched GAIN (German Academic International Network); the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched DAVINCI, an Internet database that tracks the work of Italian researchers overseas; and the EU has its Researcher’s Mobility Portal.

  • Nigeria and other oil-producing nations use petroleum profits to support the overseas education of thousands of students.

In addition to sending students abroad for training, emerging economic powers, notably India and China, have lured their skilled scientists and engineers to return home by coupling education-abroad programs with strategic investments in the science and engineering infrastructure—in essence sending students away to gain skills and providing jobs to draw them back.32

The global competition for talent was already under way when the events of September 11, 2001, disrupted US travel and immigration plans of many international graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and visiting scholars. The intervening years have seen security-related changes in federal visa and immigration policy that, although intended to restrict the illegal movements of only a few, have had a wider effect on many foreign-born graduate students and postdoctoral scholars who either were already in the United States or were contemplating studying here. Many potential visitors who in the past might have found the United States welcoming them for scientific meetings and sabbaticals now look elsewhere or stay home.33 Much of this is to our detriment: Hosting international meetings and visiting researchers is essential to staying at the forefront of international science.

The flow of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers is unlikely to be curtailed permanently, at least as long as the world sees the United


R. A. Mashelkar. “India’s R&D: Reaching for the Top.” Science 307(2005):1415-1417; L. Auriol. “Why Do We Need Indicators on Careers of Doctorate Holders?” Workshop on User Needs for Indicators on Careers of Doctorate Holders. OECD: Paris, September 27, 2004. Available at:


The National Academies. Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2005. P. 61.

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