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The Recession: Crimping Our Ability To Steal Foreign Brainpower

Slightly troubling report in the Journal today about grad school applications:

[F]oreigners' applications for 2009 graduate-school admissions rose 4% from the year before. That compares with increases of 6% in 2008, 9% in 2007 and 12% in 2006. Foreigners' applications to universities that offer doctoral programs rose 5%, but foreigners' applications declined 17% at universities that offer master's as their highest degree. ...

The council survey of U.S. institutions, which fielded more than 400,000 applications in all, showed growth of applications from China along with the Middle East and Turkey, up 16% and 20% from 2008, respectively. But applications from India and South Korea fell 9% and 7%, respectively.

"The global economy is really impacting students' ability to come to the United States," Ms. Stewart [president of the Council of Graduate Schools] noted. "Students in India are now finding it difficult to borrow money."

With China and India producing so many more sicentists and engineers than we are, our only hoping of competing, long-term, is to steal away their top home-grown talent--I guess that makes us kind of the New York Yankees of the global labor market. That India number is especially disconcerting in this light--though, you know, probably good for India. (I suspect a lot more Indians than Chinese end up staying here after grad school--it being a free society and all--though I could be wrong about that.)

--Noam Scheiber