The number of foreign scientists that earned Ph.D.s in science and engineering in the United States continues to grow, despite a weak job market and increased opportunities at home, according to a study by the U.S. Energy Department’s Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. The study found that 62 percent of foreigners who earned Ph.D.s in science and engineering at U.S. universities in 2002 were still in the U.S. in 2007, and 60 percent of those receiving Ph.D.s in 1997 were still in the U.S. a decade later. Foreign scientists account for about 40 percent of all science and engineering Ph.D. holders in the U.S. The Energy Department’s Michael Finn says that Ph.D. graduates in computer science and the physical sciences are the most likely to stay in the United States after graduation. However, other analysts say that foreign scientists are more likely to return home, especially due to the current job market. “I have no doubt that the 2009 data will show a dramatic shift,” says Duke University professor Vivek Wadwha. According to a recent National Science Foundation survey, there were 158,430 foreign science and engineering students enrolled in U.S. graduate programs in April 2009, up eight percent from the previous year.
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