Monday, November 21, 2011
After years of legislative stalemate on immigration reform, Congress may be ready to enact a modest but important change that will loosen self-defeating restrictions on the hiring of highly skilled foreign-born workers.
Called the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (S.1857), the bill would relax the quota system on high-tech visas so U.S. companies could hire the best-qualified foreign-born scientists and engineers regardless of their country of origin. It would be a rare step in the right direction for U.S. immigration policy.
Under current law, no more than 7 percent of the 140,000 annual permanent “green card” employment visas can be awarded to workers from any one country. That arbitrarily excludes qualified potential immigrants from China and India, each with more than 1 billion residents and thriving technology sectors. This makes no sense.
Highly skilled immigrants enable American firms to create products and new ways of doing business. Immigrants co-founded some of America’s top technology companies, such as Google and Intel. A Duke Universitystudy found that a quarter of high-tech and engineering startup companies between 1995 and 2005 had immigrant co-founders. One-quarter of international patents filed from the United States are credited to foreign-born residents.
For the government, educated immigrants are pure gravy. Because of their higher salaries and low unemployment rates, they pay more in taxes than they consume in government services from Day One. According to an authoritative study by the National Research Council, each college-educated immigrant and his or her descendants represent a $198,000 fiscal gain (in net present value) for the United States. That means a boost of 50,000 such immigrants in a year would be equivalent to retiring almost $10 billion in government debt.
Many potential highly skilled immigrants graduate from American universities. According to Gordon Hanson of the University California at San Diego, in an upcoming article for the Cato Journal, foreign students account for three-fourths of doctorates awarded by U.S. universities in mathematics, computer science and engineering, three-fifths of doctorates in physical sciences, and one-half of doctorates in life sciences. “Today, the difficulty is not in attracting top foreign students to America,” Mr. Hanson writes, “but in keeping them here after they graduate.”
Yet our government limits temporary H1-B visas to 85,000 a year for U.S. industry, a quota that often is filled months before the fiscal year begins. Permanent green-card employment visas, which also include family members of highly skilled immigrants, are capped at 140,000 a year.
America’s immigration system sends the signal to those foreign-born students with valuable skills that we would really prefer that they return to China or India to start companies and file international patents rather than remain here in the United States. And if U.S. companies cannot hire the workers they need here, they eventually will relocate their productive facilities to nations where they can.
It should not require a doctoral degree to see that allocating more green cards for highly skilled immigrants would be a big winner for the struggling American economy.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Saturday, May 24, 2008
The survey covered only top-tier schools, though it’s not quite clear by whose or what rankings
Monday, March 31, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
The terrorist attacks of September 11, however, prompted the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to revisit its policies on foreign students. Notably, the INS is implementing the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which, according to Danielle Sheahan, a spokeswoman for the government agency, essentially “enables us to make sure students who apply to school in our country are attending all their classes on a full-time basis.” American business schools will be required to use SEVIS by January 30, 2003, or else forfeit the right to enroll international applicants.
Liz Reisberg, executive director of The MBA Tour -- a company that helps U.S. business schools reach out to overseas applicants by arranging and promoting recruitment fairs in their respective countries -- is skeptical about the new service. “I fear that SEVIS might make our country a less welcoming destination,” she says. “Some of these precautions seem a bit unnecessary, considering that of everyone in the United States on a visa, students represent only around 1 percent. Many of the schools we work with were disappointed that we canceled our tour to the Middle East this year.”
As a result, many admissions offices are taking the initiative to make sure students from foreign countries—especially those where U.S. embassies and consulates have been more hesitant to hand out visas—feel welcome to apply. The University of Michigan Business School's Kris Nebel, director of school admissions, and Jim Hayes, director of academic services, say, “We’ve been more proactive in reaching out to the embassies in China and India” -- two countries singled out by several admissions officers as having the most problems with students' obtaining visas.
Although the transition to SEVIS might make it more difficult to get the necessary documentation, applicants shouldn’t be too worried. Most schools say there will be no change in the admissions policy for international students, and that their presence in the classroom is as important as ever. So if you're considering an MBA in the United States, here are a few tips.
Speak (and write) the language
According to several school officials, class participation and interaction are becoming ever more important in order to excel in business school. For this reason, all international applicants must be fluent in English. Those with another native language must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (visit TOEFL.org for more information). Note that if you were schooled in an English-speaking institution or country, or have work experience in the United States, you might be eligible to have the TOEFL requirement waived.
If you do have to take it, don't stress. Recent Wharton graduate Marcio Boruchowski, who hails from Brazil, says, “The TOEFL really isn’t difficult if you know the language. The more arduous tasks are writing your essays in English and studying for the GMAT -- which is a much harder test.” Indeed, mastering the language is a must for both of these since they require you to think in -- not just translate into -- English.
Don’t expect admissions officers to be too lenient on this point. “We admit our international students much as we do our domestic ones,” says Tammy Greco, assistant director of admissions at the University of Texas-Austin's McCombs School of Business. “We expect to see all parts of the application in correlation with one another.” In other words, besides an equivalent to a four-year U.S. bachelor’s degree (a three-year degree will suffice in only some cases), you need to make a serious effort to write and revise your essays and study for the GMAT, especially the verbal section. Keep in mind that GMAT scores are usually required to be no more than five years old, while TOEFL scores are valid for no more than two years.
Make sure you can pay
To get the green light for entry, you’ll have to prove that you can pay tuition for one -- and sometimes two -- years. Grant-based financial aid is not plentiful at American business schools, and admissions and aid officers alike often maintain that most of their international students pay their own way. Ann Richards, director of financial aid and associate director of admissions at Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, offers this advice: “Students often get loans or sponsors in their own country and pay for themselves.” If these options aren’t available, Cornell and a few other schools offer loans that can be used toward your financial statement, provided you have verifiable resources to pay them off. Cornell’s loan – administered in conjunction with Citibank -- doesn’t require a U.S. co-signer, unlike some others. International students often find it easier to get extra funding after they’ve established a credit history in the U.S. But if you do try to borrow money for the first year, make sure you give yourself the time to find a co-signer who will assume the risk.
Apply as early as possible
Johnson’s associate director of international admissions, Kim Killingsworth, explains why this is necessary. “Because schools will be functioning with a new data collection system in SEVIS for the first time, processing the necessary documentation will take longer this year… so we strongly encourage our international applicants to apply no later than our second round (of three). ” Every school we spoke to echoes her advice: Apply early, not only so you can get your visa in time, but also to be considered for any merit-based financial aid.
“By our last round, we don’t have as much money to give to our students,” notes one financial aid representative. Additionally, students typically need this extra time to find a co-signer, since they’re notified about most loans when they find out they’ve been admitted.
Certain schools require their admits to attend special summer programs that emphasize improvement in English and communication. In such cases, it's even more crucial to give yourself plenty of time. So when researching schools, find out all of the requirements well in advance -- and be sure to put your hat in the ring as early as possible.
Try not to worry
A native of China, Wharton graduate Florence Hu recalls, “I spent the most time on my application. There’s really not much I could do after that.” Of course, the INS holds the cards, since it determines whether you get to enter the U.S. or not. On the whole, however, U.S. embassies and consulates have been efficient in distributing the necessary permits. “Our students are pretty much getting their visas,” says Maria Graham, the director of public affairs for Columbia Business School.
Michigan’s Nebel agrees: “Aside from more background checks in India and China, things have been running pretty smoothly.” And although the implementation of SEVIS might make the process of obtaining a visa a little longer, U.S. business schools are still determined to enroll a substantial part of their class from overseas. So after you’ve applied early, been accepted, and followed the instructions of the schools, U.S. embassy, and INS, you can savor your extra fifteen minutes of spare time, relishing the fact that you’ll get to work even harder next year.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
At IIM-Kozikode, SC/ST students got an average annual package of Rs 7.06 lakh, 21.72% lower than Rs 9.02 lakh offered on an average to general candidates. IIM-Lucknow and IIM-Indore also showed a similar trend. IIM-Bangalore and IIM-Calcutta do not conduct such surveys though IIM-Calcutta director Shekhar Choudhary confirmed the salary gap, saying, “What can you expect of a student with a score of 160 compared with a score of 198?”
Interestingly, the SC/ST students’ average score at the Common Admission Test stands at 64 percentile opposed to general category students’ 98 percentile, according to Centre for Forecasting & Research, a market research firm that conducts annual B-school surveys.
The findings will be cannon fodder for the anti-quota lobby which fears the proposed 54% reservation will lead to a fall in the quality of graduates and the brand image of premier educational institutes.
When the 54% reservation kicks in, IIM-A will add 151 students to its existing batch size of 250, while IIM-C will be adding 142 more seats.
Pro-quota lobbyist BL Mungekar, member of the Moily Committee (formed to suggest measures to implement quota) and the Planning commission, says, “It’s the job of IIM directors to narrow the salary gap. IIMs are raising more questions than IITs on this (quota) issue.”
Today, it is more difficult to get into an IIM than into Harvard or Stanford. “About 98 percentile GMAT score (like CAT) are needed to get into an IIM. That kind of score can get a seat in any top global institute,” says IIM-A director Bakul Dholakia.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
As companies strive for a competitive advantage, a bachelor’s degree is often no longer enough. Instead, an increasing number of enterprises are looking to recruit and advance MBAs, and graduate programs are changing to meet new business demands. Responding to the lure of greater mobility and increased salaries, more students are pursuing post-graduate business studies.
“We see a lot of people, including engineers and IT professionals, looking at the MBA as a way to broaden their opportunities with their current employers,” says Susan Gilbert, an associate professor in the practice of finance and associate dean and director of the Evening MBA Program at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. “Quite a few students move from an IT specialist position to finance, marketing and managerial positions.”
Part of the reason is the prospect of higher compensation. In 2006, the average newly minted MBA will earn $92,360 during his or her year on the job, up 4.2% from the $88,626 received by graduates in 2005, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). The McLean, Va.-based organization administers the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), an entrance assessment tool used by business schools As part of the admissions review process.
Individuals who hold an MBA are also more likely to quickly secure a job. According to GMAC, 52% of respondents to a 2006 global survey said they had received or accepted a job offer before graduation, compared with 50% in 2005, 42% in 2004 and 36% in 2003.
To compete in today’s labor market, employees must have more skills and must be adaptable throughout their careers to changing technology, product demand, and global competition, according to a Rand Corporation research paper titled The 21st Century at Work. It also notes that a key challenge for the public and private sectors will be the creation of an education and training system that’s responsive to the needs of the twenty-first century labor market.
As Associate Dean and Director of MBA Admissions at Emory's Goizueta Business School since 1988, Julie Barefoot has seen an evolution in MBA programs and the students who are taking the courses.
“In response to the changing business market, the MBA curriculum at Goizueta has added components,” observes Barefoot. “There’s a greater emphasis on leadership development and communications skills. Of course we’re not neglecting accounting, analytical and qualitative studies, because companies still expect students to have the ability to analyze data and solve problems. However, in terms of one broad skill set that graduates need—the bar keeps rising.”
She adds that today’s recruiters expect new MBA hires to quickly add value to their company; and the makeup of candidates reflects this trend.
“A decade ago, MBA enrollees had an average of two years of work experience,” she relates. “Now they have about five years. As companies cut back on the training programs they offer to new hires, the timeframe in which MBA graduates are expected to start contributing keeps getting shorter. A candidate’s prior work experience has an increasingly larger impact on his or her ability to quickly ramp up performance.”
Barefoot points out that the impact of globalization is also reflected in the makeup of MBA candidates.
“As more companies do business across international borders, they’re looking for job candidates that can function well in a multicultural environment,” she explains. “At Goizueta, we’re seeing an incoming student population that’s internationally diverse, with candidates that are forging a global network of contacts that will have a positive, critical impact on their job performance.”
Many students say they are coming back to school to advance their career or increase their opportunities, but Andrea Hershatter, a senior lecturer in organization and management at Goizueta, says that the value of continuing education goes beyond that.
“I believe continuing education, both in the form of degree programs as well as other educational opportunities, is absolutely necessary, perhaps now more than ever,” says Hershatter, who also serves as associate dean and director of Goizueta’s Undergraduate Program. “I think there are three key reasons behind this: environmental, cognitive, and developmental.”
Addressing the environmental driver she notes that individuals today operate in a knowledge-based economy, where conditions change rapidly.
“The people who will thrive will be those who can not only understand what is transpiring, but can also forecast the related implications,” she says. “To make sense of a world that is simultaneously expanding in scope and contracting in reach requires both intellectual capacity and academic grounding.”
Taking up the cognitive issue, she notes that even very successful people can develop tunnel vision, since intentional, absolute focus—the kind that characterizes effective people—requires a screening process that may not be conducive to innovation and growth.
“In contrast, creativity requires combining interesting and seemingly unrelated bits of information in new and unexpected ways,” Hershatter advises. “The educational process, by definition, broadens perspectives and assimilates new approaches, methodologies and information. At its best, it is enlightenment. So even individuals who are returning to school with specific objectives find that the experience provides non-linear opportunities to refine, redefine, or refocus one's professional endeavors.”
Continuing education also enhances personal growth, adds Hershatter. “Even if going back to school simply pushes us out of our comfort zone and shows us how much we do not know, it is still a very liberating process,” she maintains. “All research shows the contribution of lifelong learning to the full development of the individual. Learning is a fundamental human need that does not diminish with age or accumulated wisdom. In fact, the more we know, the more we benefit from exposure to great thinkers and the frameworks they have developed for understanding the world.”
The importance of an ongoing educational process appears to be further underscored by the Rand study, which notes that, “Shifts in the nature of business organizations and the growing importance of knowledge-based work” favor the development of non-routine cognitive skills, including abstract reasoning, problem-solving, communication, and collaboration.
“Within this context, education and training become a continuous process throughout the life course involving training and retraining that continues well past initial entry into the labor market,” according to the study. “Technology mediated learning offers the potential to support lifelong learning both on the job and through traditional public and private education and training institutions.”
Adjoined Consulting, which was acquired by the global IT services firm Kanbay International in March 2006, actively recruits MBAs directly from top business schools as well as MBAs with several years of post-MBA experience. Managing Director Andrew Duncan explains that the MBA graduates “have consistently elevated themselves more quickly through the organization into important leadership and firm development roles - including driving our own post-merger integration activities."
Erin Melick, a Goizueta evening MBA alumnus, for example, has been working full-time in the Post Merger Office since the Kanbay-Adjoined merger. Chris Miller, another Goizueta MBA alumnus, references the firm's track record in demonstrating the value of MBAs.
“Our tuition reimbursement program is significantly greater than other firms simply because we have been able to quantitatively and qualitatively define the exceptional value that MBA graduates have contributed to our success,” Miller explains. “Every year the focus and allocation of resources to MBA programs has grown exponentially.”
Yet despite education's demonstrated value-added, and the ability of technology to make the transmission and transfer of knowledge widely accessible, some disturbing signs are emerging.
For example, only 55% of American students who start college actually complete it within six years, according to a 2005 report issued by the Society for College and University Planning, an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based organization that promotes research into issues affecting higher education. Among African American and Hispanic students, the number drops to 41%.
Women make up another group that tends to be under-represented in MBA programs, according to Elissa Ellis, executive director of the Austin, Texas-based Forté Foundation. The organization, a consortium of corporations, business schools and nonprofit organizations, focuses on ways to educate and direct women toward leadership roles in business.
“In general, women have been found to be more risk-averse than their male counterparts, and are thus less likely to sacrifice the time needed to complete an MBA,” she explains. “For women who are already in the workforce and either have children or plan to, any initial doubts about going for an MBA may be compounded by issues like balancing work and family, further discouraging them.”
All of this is taking place against a rising demand for MBAs. But will there be enough of them to meet that need?
One leading indicator of future supply—the number of students taking the GMAT—has remained stagnant and even dipped a bit, according to a report issued in May 2006 by the London Business School. Drawing on data gathered by the Graduate Management Admission Council, the institution says that during the period from 1995 to 2005, the number of students taking the graduate admissions test fell from 131,118 to 109,852. During that period however, it rose in Europe from 72,050 in 1995 to 86,500 in 2005.
Part of the decline in overall U.S. numbers may be due to opportunity costs, says Joan Coonrod, director of admissions of the W. Cliff Oxford Executive MBA Program at Goizueta.
“Many people today can’t afford to take the time to go back to school full time for a graduate degree,” Coonrod says. “Despite the clear advantages, people in general seem to be taking more time before deciding to enroll in an MBA program. And more of them are signing up for part-time programs, such as executive or evening MBA programs. These programs allow immediate application of learning back to the workplace—a real bonus for both the students and for their companies. Executive MBA programs tend to attract higher level professionals, so the faculty and class interaction is much more applicable to the business issues they are facing.”
The increase in the European MBA market is driven by a number of factors says Dan LeClair, vice president and chief knowledge officer at The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The Tampa, Florida-based organization is made up of educational institutions, corporations and other organizations with a focus on business-oriented higher education.
“Through an initiative known as the Bologna Accord [a June 1999 agreement aimed at creating a system of standardized degrees throughout the European Union by 2010], it’s easier to transport degrees and studies throughout the EU, which encourages the pursuit of higher education,” explains LeClair. “MBAs are also gaining in importance in Asia, where booming economies are spurring demand.”
Meanwhile in Japan, the rotation away from the lifetime employment model has spurred competition among job-seekers, and more students are enrolling in MBA programs as a way to stand out from the crowd.
Looking ahead, LeClair sees significant differences in worldwide trends in the key 25-to-29 year-old population that makes up the bulk of full-time MBA enrollment.
“In the U.S., the population of 25 through 29 year-olds is expected to increase by more than 13% through 2020,” he says. “But Europe is expected to see an 8% decline in the age group during this period. In contrast, in Latin America and Asia this demographic group is expected to grow by 11% and 20%, respectively.”
Elissa Ellis, from the Forté Foundation, thinks market forces may eventually help to balance out supply and demand.
“As aging baby boomers retire, businesses may find a shortage of experienced management-level employees,” she says. “And the so-called Millennium generation workforce, male and female, will likely demand flexibility in their jobs. When businesses hurt, they tend to be more responsive; so there’s a good chance that in coming years we’ll see the kinds of changes in the workplace that will make it more attractive. And that may bring in more women and others that can refill the ranks of MBAs. The change will not come at lightning speeds, but I think it will come nonetheless.”