Foreign-born Students the Majority Gaining Higher-Level Computer Science Degrees

Susan Hall
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A few years ago, through our children’s school, we became friends with a Syrian family here while the father worked on his Ph.D. at the University of Louisville. My husband and I helped edit his dissertation, and my colleague Carl Weinschenk interviewed him about his research.

He told us at the time that there were no Americans in his Ph.D. program, which made getting English right in his paper that much more difficult.

New data from the Computing Research Association (CRA) bears out what we saw in that case. It says foreign-born students are the majority – actually 60 percent during the 2011-12 academic year – in Ph.D.-level computer science programs.

The number of Ph.D.s awarded reached its highest level at 1,929, reports Computerworld.

Foreign students made up 53.8 percent of masters degree candidates and just 6.9 percent of bachelor’s degree candidates.

The number of undergraduates majoring in computer science at Ph.D.-granting universities, however, grew about 30 percent last year, however, a rate the CRA called “astonishing.”

As President Obama moves immigration reform to the front burner, the so-called “entrepreneur visa” is just one proposal to keep foreign-born students with innovative ideas in the United States. That idea is gaining steam as other countries try to create a welcoming business climate for them.

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