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Study: Foreign STEM Students Prefer U.S.-Based Postdocs

July 24, 2018

International students in chemistry prefer to stay in the U.S. for postdoctoral research positions, according to a new working paper available from the National Bureau of Economic Research, “Will the U.S. Keep the Best and the Brightest (as Post-Docs)? Career and Location Preferences of Foreign STEM Ph.Ds.” (Available here for $5.)

The researchers, Ina Ganguli, of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Patrick Gaulé, of the University of Bath, surveyed students across 54 top chemistry programs in the U.S. A total of 1,605 Ph.D. students responded to the survey, which found that international students “are generally more interested in academic careers than U.S. students, even when controlling for ability and comparing students from similar subfields and programs.”

The survey also asked respondents to choose between hypothetical job offers at highly ranked institutions in the U.S. and abroad.

“We find that foreign students have a stronger preference for U.S. locations even after controlling for ability and career preferences,” the paper states. “Our results suggest the U.S. is managing to retain talented foreign graduate students for postdoc positions.”

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Elizabeth Redden

Elizabeth Redden, Senior Reporter, covers general higher education topics, religion and higher education, and international higher education for Inside Higher Ed. She has more than a decade of experience as an education journalist. She holds an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing from Columbia University.

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