Foreign students play a vital role in American graduate education in the sciences, but numerous U.S. policies are failing to help colleges enroll these students, according to a new report  from the National Research Council.
The report, released Tuesday, doesn't contain any surprises for those who have followed international education issues. Since 9/11 and the tightening of U.S. visa regulations, colleges have repeatedly pointed out that it has become much more difficult for foreign students to enroll at American institutions. The report also notes that this change has taken place at a time that many other countries have stepped up their recruitment of foreign students.
Among the recommendations in the report:
- Universities should expand fellowship programs to attract foreign students, and orientation programs to help them adjust to life in the United States.
- Universities should collect more data about their foreign students to document their role in higher education and their impact once they obtain their degrees.
- Federal agencies need to change visa regulations so that international students can be admitted to the United States for both long-term study and short-term projects and conferences, without unnecessary delays.
- Federal agencies should make it easier for foreign graduate students to change their visa status once they are in the United States and their circumstances change.