US move to cut back foreign student hires to hurt economy: study

March 19th, 2009 - 1:59 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 19 (IANS) As major US firms cut back on plans to hire foreign students due to concerns over political backlash amidst growing job losses, a new study warns the move may only prove detrimental to America’s economic health.

A Kauffman Foundation study released Thursday indicates that the move by large banks, such as Bank of America, may only end up hurting the US economic health by accelerating the return of talented immigrant students to their home countries.

“Policymakers are misguided if they believe these talented next-generation entrepreneurs and innovators threaten US jobs. They, in fact, offer the promise of more jobs by building successful, high-growth companies - either in their own businesses or those for which they work,” said Robert E. Litan, vice president of Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation.

The study, conducted by Duke University professor and Harvard researcher Vivek Wadhwa and titled “Losing the World’s Best and Brightest: America’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Part V”, surveyed 1,224 foreign nationals currently studying in US institutions of higher learning or who had graduated by the end of the 2008 academic school year.

“Foreign students receive nearly 60 percent of all engineering doctorates and more than half of all mathematics, computer sciences, physics and economics doctorates awarded in the United States. These foreign nationals end up making jobs, not taking jobs,” said Wadhwa.

“They bring insights into growing global markets and fresh ideas. Research has shown that they even end up boosting innovation by US inventors. Losing them is an economic tragedy.”

According to the study’s findings, very few foreign students would like to stay in the United States permanently - only six percent of Indian, 10 percent of Chinese and 15 percent of Europeans.

And fewer foreign students than the historical norm expressed interest in staying in the United States after they graduate. Only 58 percent of Indian, 54 percent of Chinese and 40 percent of European students wish to stay for several years after graduation.

Previous National Science Foundation research has shown 68 percent of foreigners who received science and engineering doctorates stayed for extended periods of time, including 73 percent of those who studied computer science.

The five-year minimum stay rate was 92 percent for Chinese students and 85 percent for Indian students.

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