Students from India have out-numbered their Chinese counterparts in US by a decent margin when it comes to pursuing master's degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, an official report for the year 2009 has revealed.
According to the figures tabulated by the department of homeland security for the National Science Foundation in 2009, India was the top sending country for STEM and graduates enrolled in master's degree programs and represented 56% of all STEM students seeking master's degree in 2009.
In fact, Indian graduate students studying engineering and computer science led in master's degrees. Students from China were placed second at 15 per cent and were more evenly distributed across STEM fields, with the exception of engineering.
The remaining top eight sending countries accounted for a total of 13% of all foreign students seeking master's degrees in STEM fields in 2009, less than that of China, said the Congressional Research Service (CRS) in its recent report.
But when it comes to Doctoral degrees, Chinese students took the first position, as the report discloses.
In terms of doctoral degrees, China sent the most STEM students in 2009, making up 35%. Chinese PhD students were almost half of all foreign nationals in mathematics and physical sciences and roughly a third of all foreign nationals in the other STEM fields (except psychology and the social sciences). Doctoral degree students from India represented 16% of STEM doctorates in 2009, it said.
The number of full-time graduate students in science, engineering, and health fields who were foreign students (largely on F-1 non-immigrant visas) grew from 91,150 in 1990 to 148,923 in 2009, with most of the increase occurring after 1999, it said.
The report further mentions that out of the four STEM options it is engineering which has been the most attractive for students. About 40,000 graduate degrees were awarded to foreign STEM students in 2009, with 10,000 of those going to PhD recipients, it added.
The report also sheds light on the number of Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs), who were employment-based principal immigrants, for the decade 2000-09 and attributes 44 per cent (2,97,668) of the total 6,76,642 to STEM occupations.
"Of all of the LPRs reporting STEM occupations (297,668) over this decade, 52% entered as professional and skilled workers," it said.
"STEM graduates seeking LPR status are likely to wait in line to obtain LPR status. Those immigrating as professional and skilled workers face wait times of many years, but those who meet the criteria of the extraordinary ability or advanced degrees preference categories have a much shorter wait," the CRS report said.