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HomePolicyVisa Restrictions May Block One-Fifth of Chinese Graduate STEM Enrollment Annually: Study

Visa Restrictions May Block One-Fifth of Chinese Graduate STEM Enrollment Annually: Study


In May 2020, the Trump administration announced new visa restrictions that bar Chinese graduate students and researchers found to be affiliated with institutions that support the military-civil fusion (MCF) strategy.

The proclamation was issued to prevent the People’s Republic of China from gaining unauthorized access to American technologies through students operating as “non-traditional collectors of intellectual property.”

With such a policy in place, it is estimated that one-fifth of annual Chinese enrollees will not be allowed to enter the country and participate in US STEM graduate programs, an analysis from Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology found. Remco Zwetsloot, Emily Weinstein, and Ryan Fedasiuk authored the report, which details possible implementation of the restrictions and their consequent implications.

They reviewed policy documents, data, and news reports relevant to the case, assuming that between 3,000 and 5,000 Chinese students will be affected.

“Our estimate of 3,000 to 5,000 blocked students equals between 16 and 27 percent of the roughly 19,000 Chinese STEM students who start U.S. STEM graduate programs per year. Our calculations reflect historical data from 2017 through 2019,” the report reads.

However, the authors also claimed that this is a low-confidence estimate since sources, key terms, and concepts remain undefined.

Further data collection and analysis to determine academic fields relevant to the MCF strategy and measure affiliations with Chinese universities are recommended to improve the results.

Other key findings conclude that the MCF-related “entity” criterion will involve all STEM enrollments and that 11 Chinese universities included in the US Department of Commerce’s Entity List have likely been targeted.

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