Issue Date: May 10, 2004
LEADING SCIENCE INDICATORS
The U.S. continues to be a world leader in science and technology, but this leadership faces an uncertain future as a result of ongoing economic and workforce changes, concludes “Science & Engineering Indicators 2004”—a biennial report by the National Science Board to the President.
“For many years, we have benefited from minimal competition in the global science and engineering labor market, but attractive and competitive alternatives are now expanding around the world,” NSB Chair Warren M. Washington said at a news conference last week in Washington, D.C., to unveil the 2004 edition of the report. “We must develop more fully our native talent.”
Washington’s comments typify how numbers in the report are put to use: It has become a catalyst for speaking out about the changing conditions for R&D and science education in the U.S. Ironically, the actual data sets in the report are often too old to be used to talk about current trends.
This year, for example, observers have been keen to point out that foreign students with temporary visas make up a third of those enrolled in physical, earth, ocean, and atmospheric sciences combined. But, as a result of the current national security environment, there has been a significant drop in the number of high-skill-related visas issued to students, exchange visitors, and others, with decreases expected to continue.
New to the report this year is a state-by-state breakdown of two dozen science and technology indicators. The data show that a state’s investment in R&D is not reflected in other indicators, such as its students’ educational performance or degrees conferred.
The full report is available online at http://www.nsf.gov/sbe/srs/seind04/.
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