Menckens Ghost
Is Dartmouth President Racist?  

In the commentary below, the president of Dartmouth College and the dean of its Tuck School of Business say that students from China are better than native-born Americans and students from other countries in STEM courses and in starting businesses after graduation.  Stated differently, Mexicans, Africans, Italians, and other nationalities and races are inferior to the Chinese in these regards.  Are the two academics going to be accused of racism?

Of course their opinion has nothing to do with the fact that many colleges have become dependent on money from Chinese students.


Mencken's Ghost

Chinese Students Help America Innovate

The administration considers a visa ban. What a terrible idea.


Philip J. Hanlon and

Matthew J. Slaughter

The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 12, 2018 6:47 p.m. ET

The Dartmouth alumni WeChat group is buzzing with the recent news that the U.S. government may ban Chinese citizens from attending American colleges. Such a ban would damage American higher education. More important, it would dampen the country's capacity for economic innovation.

Foreign students often choose to study in the U.S. because they aim to apply here what they learn at our world-class schools. A Kauffman Foundation study found that immigrants accounted for 25% of all new high-tech companies founded from 2006 through 2012. The immigrant share of all U.S. entrepreneurs rose from 16.7% in 1995 to 27.1% in 2008. Since 2001, immigrants from China have played one of the largest roles in this increase. Research has shown that immigrants who come on a student visa are likelier to start a company than either native-born Americans with similar education or other immigrants. Student-visa immigrants earn higher wages, receive more patents and commercialize more inventions.

The outsize and growing role of Chinese students in American innovation is especially evident in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Chinese students in U.S. STEM programs are often more productive than students from other countries. One study of 16,000 doctoral candidates in 161 U.S. chemistry departments found that Chinese students wrote more and better papers than other international students—on par with their U.S. classmates who had been awarded prestigious National Science Foundation fellowships.

Most Chinese STEM graduates don't want to take their skills back. Between 2012 and 2015, 83% of Chinese students who completed doctorates in science or engineering in the U.S. reported plans to stay in the country. That's a much higher rate than from almost any other country. Only about half of German doctorate recipients, for instance, want to stay.

In the years beyond earning their STEM degrees, Chinese students are much likelier to remain. Among foreign-born students who received science and engineering doctorates in America in 2005, 90% of those from China were still in the U.S. a decade later, the highest rate of any country. The figures for Europe and South America were 65% and 50%, respectively. And of the 464,000 foreign-born holders of science and engineering doctorates in the U.S. in 2015, China accounted for 22.4%, more than any other country.

Foreign-born students won't stop being innovators if the U.S. decides to keep them out. They will stop being innovators in America. America's loss—of new ideas, new companies, new jobs—would be the rest of the world's gain. Why close the door to so many great innovators when we need them?

Mr. Hanlon is president of Dartmouth College. Mr. Slaughter is dean of its Tuck School of Business.