9/11 AND FOREIGN STUDENTS….It’s easy to get Chicken Little-ish about this kind of stuff, but these statistics about the decline of foreigners applying for graduate studies at U.S. universities are kind of scary:

Foreign applications to American graduate schools declined 28 percent this year. Actual foreign graduate student enrollments dropped 6 percent. Enrollments of all foreign students, in undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral programs, fell for the first time in three decades in an annual census released this fall. Meanwhile, university enrollments have been surging in England, Germany and other countries.

….Some 28 percent fewer Indian students applied to attend American graduate schools this fall than last year, according to a survey by the Council of Graduate Schools. This matched the overall decline for all foreign students.

I suspect that a lot of Americans have no idea just how dependent we are on foreigners to fill our graduate schools, especially in technical areas. Without Indian immigrants, for example, Silicon Valley would practically be a ghost town and the dotcom boom would have been stillborn. The biotech industry would be devastated. Engineering schools would be depopulated.

If we’re lucky, this recent drop is a temporary reaction to 9/11. At the same time, though, the absolute decline in the number of native born Americans who are interested in graduate work in the sciences is kind of scary. One of these days we’re going to have start pulling our own weight again. The rest of the world isn’t going to be willing to subsidize us forever.

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