Biden Administration Announces New Actions to Attract Int'l STEM Students &Strengthen Economy

United States North America Higher Education News International Studies by Erudera News Jan 23, 2022

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The Biden administration has announced it is making policy changes for international students specializing in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, to attract the latter to come to the United States to study and stay in the country after graduation.

The new measures were announced by the Departments of State and Homeland Security, aiming to facilitate the path of international students in STEM fields as well as to strengthen the US economy and innovation, making it more competitive, Erudera.com reports.

“Today, the Departments of State and Homeland Security are announcing new actions to advance predictability and clarity for pathways for international STEM scholars, students, researchers, and experts to contribute to innovation and job creation efforts across America,”  the White House noted in a fact sheet. 

The statement further pointed out that the moves will allow international STEM students, experts, and researchers to continue to make their meaningful contributions to “America’s scholarly, research and development, and innovation communities.”

According to Homeland Security, 22 fields of study in total have been added to the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which allows F-1 students with bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees in STEM fields to stay in the United States up to three years and work in their field of study. In 2020, some 58,000 applicants applied to the program.

The State Department will allow eligible J-1 students to complete their academic training, and the latter will also be connected directly with US businesses. As the Wall Street Journal reports, companies such as Silicon Valley have been long urging for these efforts and the expansion of the program.

“Our commitment as a nation to welcoming new talent has long provided America with a global competitive advantage, and we must continue to lead in this effort,” the White House said.

Some of the 22 new STEM fields include:

  • Climate science
  • Bioenergy
  • General forestry
  • Forest resources
  • Cloud computing
  • Environmental geosciences
  • Production and Management
  • Anthrozoology
  • Business analytics
  • Data visualization

Secretary of homeland security Alejandro Mayorkas said that STEM innovation helps in solving complex challenges and makes a difference in how the US is secured and protected. 

“Through STEM education and training opportunities, DHS is expanding the number and diversity of students who excel in STEM education and contribute to the U.S. economy,” Mayorkas added.

According to a report published by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and other higher education institutions last year, the number of international students pursuing non-degree courses or attending Optional Practical Training programs in the US has increased by 4 percent.

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