STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math) academic programs are critically important to both international students and our nation as a whole.
Why You Should Be Considering STEM Degrees - Visa USA Expert
Our Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently launched the Study in the States initiative to enhance our nation’s economic, scientific and technological competitiveness. The goal is to find new ways to encourage the most talented international students to study and learn about expanded post-graduate opportunities in the US in STEM degrees.Pushing for more STEM studentsSTEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math) academic programs are critically important to both international students and our nation as a whole. Everybody it seems realizes that STEM graduates are the key to the future of technology, economic growth and job creation.And with new immigration reform being discussed, one day the powers that be (politicians) may also agree that STEM graduates from anywhere in the world, like you!, are considered part of our future too.Currently, part of the Immigration Reform includes President Obama’s administration putting more emphasis on enrollment towards earning STEM degrees for students of all types – including international students. And the Department of Homeland Security is joining this effort by providing international students who graduated with a degree in certain STEM-related fields new opportunities they didn’t have in the past.For example, these benefits include a 17-month extension for Optional Practical Training (OPT) and expanding the list of STEM degree programs that qualify for this extension.So if you are an international student who has not yet selected your school or your college degree program, you owe it to yourself to look into all of the STEM degrees and see if anything excites you in these areas.States are pushing for more STEM studentsBuilding up and pushing STEM programs is also a priority for officials in our individual states as well as colleges and universities.– Just recently the governor of Connecticut announced a new program to promote enrollment in STEM fields. Called Next Generation Connecticut, it provides more funds for STEM programs on University of Connecticut campuses. The money will be used to hire more faculty members, enroll more students, build new STEM facilities and dorms, and create new doctoral fellowships and a STEM honors program.– There is a new “25 by 25” initiative at Texas A&M University, which “aims to increase engineering enrollment at the university to 25,000 students, up from 11,000 now, by 2025.” Unlike the program in Connecticut, however, this initiative will have no additional state funding. Instead, its financial support will come from the “extra money that growing enrollment brings.”– Another push worth noting, the University of Maryland Baltimore County announced that it will spend three years building and piloting a national model for increasing the number of community college students who ultimately earn bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields. The program is funded by a $2.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.– The City Colleges of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago recently announced a partnership, along with a $100,000 grant from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ Minority Male STEM Initiative, which is funded by the Kresge Foundation, to support male minority STEM students at the community college system in transferring to and graduating from Illinois-Chicago.– Additionally, earlier this year, Mount Holyoke College received a $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to recruit and support female community college students in STEM fields.Why is this important for you as student coming to the US?The United States leads the world in attracting top foreign students. About 22% of students who want to study outside their country decide to come here. But both sides of our political parties are finally seeing that we are currently in a lose-lose situation for immigrants coming here to study, and possibly to stay.I personally believe that it’s simply too difficult for foreign graduates of US colleges and universities to get the visas they need to stay here and put their new education to use at American companies. Our current US policies are stale and short-sighted and hurting our progress.Even though the recent STEM jobs bill did not pass, with discussion about immigration reform still being hotly debated in the US, I believe it is only a matter of time before bills are passed that reward international STEM student grads by providing fast paths to their green card and citizenship. That is another reason why you should consider STEM fields when you are considering schools and degree programs here in the US.Go USA!All information presented here is from my personal research and my attempts to save you time and money when pursuing your dream of coming to the USA to study. Do not take any of this information as LEGAL advice – I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV. This information is gathered from a variety of sources including many U.S. Government websites and I urge you to validate this information as much as possible, just as I do when posting on this blog.