More foreign students are entering U.S. graduate schools and dominating in critical fields such as computer sciences and engineering, as enrollment by Americans remains sluggish, a survey released on Thursday found.
While overall first-time enrollment in graduate schools showed a slight rise of 1.8 percent between the autumn of 2011 and the autumn of 2012, after declining in the two previous years, the increase was strongly driven by a spike in enrollment by foreign students, the Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees found.
The annual survey is produced jointly by the Council of Graduate Schools and the Graduate Record Examinations Board.
“Of particular concern here is that the decline continues to be notable in fields of compelling national need,” said Debra Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools.
The worry is that foreign students educated in the United States will bring the technical expertise back to their home countries, and not contribute as much to U.S. economic development.
Stewart said the global leadership position of the United States in research and innovation could be in jeopardy if nothing is done to encourage graduate education, which is projected to be a future driver of the U.S. economy.