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Are Foreign Students The ‘Best And Brightest’?

By Norman Matloff | February 28, 2013
Briefing Paper #356
The technology industry, in lobbying Congress for expansion of programs to attract skilled foreign workers, has long claimed that foreign students graduating from U.S. universities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are typically “the best and the brightest,” i.e., exceptionally talented innovators in their fields. However, the industry and its supporters have offered little or no evidence to back up their assertion. The claim is investigated in this report, with a focus on former foreign students now working in the United States, the group viewed by the industry as key to innovation.
The assertion that the foreign graduates offer superior skills or ability relative to U.S. graduates is found not to be supported by the data.
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