The number of US students going to graduate school for science and  engineering hit an all-time high in 2005, offering a glimmer of hope to  policymakers and business chiefs who have lamented that Americans are not  interested in science.

  A new survey conducted by the National Science Foundation shows that  enrolment of US citizens and permanent residents in science and engineering  graduate programmes increased 2 per cent, to a record 339,550.
  The survey also showed a 4 per cent rise in first-time enrolments by  foreign students, following three years of decline. However, total enrolment of  foreign students in those subjects dropped 3 per cent - the second year in a row  with a decline.
  Kei Koizumi, the director of the R&D budget and policy programme at the  American Association for the Advancement of Science, called the survey's  findings "mixed".
  "The good news, according to most policymakers, is that it appears  Americans are going into science and engineering in greater numbers," he said.  "But the drop in foreign students - whether it's because of real or perceived  visa problems, or because students find it more attractive to study in other  nations - is not as [encouraging]."
  Applications from international students fell after the State Department  imposed restrictions on foreign students in the wake of the September 11  terrorist attacks.
  "The single biggest challenge for colleges and universities being able to  recruit top talent from around the world is our immigration system," said Robert  Hoffman, the vice-president of government and public affairs at Oracle, the  software company.
  "The system is working as a barrier to recruitment. It's saying: you might  be able to get a top-flight education at a US university but you might not be  able to get a top-flight job at a US company after you graduate."
  Total engineering enrolments fell by 2.5 per cent, largely because of a  decline in foreign students, but total enrolments in mathematics and the  physical sciences rose slightly, according to the survey. Enrolment of US  citizens increased in all three categories but by less than 1 per cent in  each.
  Susan Traiman, the director of education and workforce policy at the  Business Roundtable, said she was concerned that US graduate schools were losing  their edge in attracting the most talented foreign students, as other countries,  such as the UK and Australia, boosted their investment in graduate education and  embarked on campaigns to recruit top domestic and international students.
  "What these numbers seem to be saying is that top talent has many more  options now," she said.
  "If we don't have enough Americans going into these fields, and if we don't  have the foreign talent to fill the gaps, it jeopardises US innovation - and  that is the underpinning of American competitiveness."
  2005年攻读科学与工程专业研究生的美国学生数量达到历史新高,让哀叹美国人对科学不感兴趣的决策者和企业总裁们看到了一线希望。
  美国国家科学基金会(National Science  Foundation)的最新调查显示,入读科学与工程研究生课程的美国公民和永久性居民人数增长了2%,达到创纪录的33.955万人。
  调查还显示,继前3年下降之后,今年外国学生的入学率首次增长4%。不过,就读这些学科的外国学生总数下降3%,为连续第二年下降。
  美国科学促进会(American Association for the Advancement of Science)研发预算及政策项目主管Kei  Koizumi表示,此次调查的结果"喜忧参半"。
  "多数决策者表示,好消息是,攻读科学与工程专业的美国人似乎越来越多,"他表示。"但外国学生数量下降,不管是因为实际存在或人们感觉中的签证问题,还是因为学生发现在其它国家读书更具吸引力,这都(令人沮丧)。"
  9.11恐怖袭击后,美国国务院对外国学生实施限制,此后,来自国际学生的申请数量有所下降。
  软件公司甲骨文(Oracle)主管政府及公共事务的副总裁罗伯特o霍夫曼(Robert  Hoffman)表示:"(美国的)大学院校能否招到全世界顶尖的人才,唯一最大的挑战在于我们的移民体系。"
  "该体系对招生工作来说是个障碍。它所表达的意思是:你或许能在美国大学里获得一流教育,但你毕业后可能无法在美国公司里找到一份好工作。"
  调查发现,工程专业的入读学生总数下降2.5%,在很大程度上是因为外国学生数量的减少,但入读数学和物理学专业的学生总数小幅上升。入读上述三门学科的美国公民人数有所上升,但每门学科的学生增幅不足1%。
  商业圆桌会议(Business Roundtable)的教育及就业政策主管苏珊o崔曼(Susan  Traiman)表示,她感到担忧的是,随着英国和澳大利亚等其它国家纷纷提高自己在研究生教育方面的投资,并发起招募国内外优秀学生的攻势,美国研究生院正失去其在吸引外国最优秀人才方面的优势。
  她表示:"这些数字似乎表明,目前顶尖人才有更多的选择。"
  "如果没有数量足够的美国学生进入这些领域,同时如果没有外国人才来填补这些空白,这将有损美国的创新能力--而这正是美国竞争力的根本所在。"