Foreign-Born Scientists May Have Research Access Limited

WASHINGTON, To bolster national security, the Department of Commerce (DOC) and Department of Defense (DOD) are proposing significant changes as to how research is conducted at universities. The new federal proposals would place tough restrictions on foreign-born scientists and tighten access to equipment and computers.

The DOD is considering requiring some foreign students to work in segregated laboratories and wear special badges that are coded to restrict access.

The DOC may also require universities be licensed before allowing some foreign-born teachers, staff or students to use common scientific equipment. The restriction might also apply to foreign-born researchers who are U. S. citizens. Universities would be required to identify students by their country of birth.

Approximately one-third of U.S. science and engineering graduate students are non-Americans. Many others are born abroad.

The DOD and DOC were prompted to make the proposals because of a recent fact-finding mission by federal officials. Authorities allege that universities were unknowingly granting foreign researchers unauthorized access to unclassified but sensitive technologies.

Opponents say the proposals might encourage top foreign researchers to attend schools in the United Kingdom, Canada or Australia and make U.S. universities less competitive. They also say the new restrictions would be difficult or even impossible to implement.

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