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Research graduates from abroad tend to stick around

About 67 per cent of foreign-born students who earned research doctorates in science, engineering or health fields at US universities from 2001 to 2007 were still living in the US in 2008, according to data released by the National Science Foundation.

The graduates were holding temporary visas when they received their degrees.

Overall, an NSF survey found that nearly 40 per cent of those who earned SEH research doctorates in the US during the last four years were foreign nationals, it said on 18 October.

Whereas 20 per cent of the foreign-citizen graduates reported working or living in their country of origin in 2008, 97 per cent of the US-citizen graduates reported working or living in America.

The data showed that the US was by far the most popular destination for foreign graduates who did not return to their home country, followed by the European Union, Asia and Canada.

More than 73 per cent of the recent foreign-born doctoral graduates who held temporary US resident visas reported that they planned to stay in the US after graduation, according to the survey results. About 23 per cent reported their intention of seeking employment and postdoctoral study opportunities in other countries.

US doctorate recipients from China, India and countries of the former Soviet Union reported particularly low rates of returning home. For example, more than 93 per cent of the students from China stayed in the US, and less than 4 per cent had returned to China, NSF found. But only about 54 per cent of the students from South Korea stayed in the US, while nearly 44 per cent had returned home. Similar statistics were seen from the Taiwanese students.

Four-year educational institutions provided the largest employment sector for all analysis groups with the exception of foreign citizens in the US, who were the most likely to be working in the private sector: they reported working in industry and in four-year institutions in equally high proportions, about 43 per cent. US citizens working abroad reported the highest rate of employment in the government sector, at over 20 per cent.