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April 27, 2007

Graduate Education and Innovation

The Council of Graduate Schools yesterday released a report regarding the role of graduate education in America’s competitiveness. The report makes five key findings:

1. A highly skilled workforce operating at the frontiers of knowledge creation and professional practice is key to America’s competitiveness and national security. Universities, governments, and private industry each play an essential role in providing the expertise and resources necessary to achieve this objective.

2. The expanded participation of U.S. citizens, particularly from underrepresented minority groups, should be a priority in fields that are essential to our nation’s success. Development of STEM careers should be emphasized.

3. Interdisciplinary research preparation and education are central to future competitiveness, because knowledge creation and innovation frequently occur at the interface of disciplines.

4. U.S. graduate schools must be able to attract the best and brightest students from around the world.

5. The quality of graduate programs drives the success of America’s higher education system. Efforts to evaluate and improve all aspects of the quality of the U.S. graduate education enterprise must be advanced and supported in order to foster innovation.

The report makes a series of recommendations for policymakers, calling for:

  • Collaboration among leaders in government, business, and higher education to develop a highly-educated workforce and encourage entrepreneurship in graduate education.
  • The creation of incentives for students, particularly from underrepresented groups, to pursue graduate education in STEM fields, the social sciences, and humanities, and identify “best practices” to reduce attrition and shorten the time required to complete a degree.
  • Support for innovative graduate education programs, such as professional master’s degrees, which respond to workforce needs in such critical fields as science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM), as well as in social sciences and the humanities.
  • Expanding opportunities for graduate students to pursue interdisciplinary study at the frontier of knowledge creation, using models such as those pioneered by the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health.
  • Continuing to improve and reform the visa process so that the world’s top international talent can pursue graduate study in the U.S. and contribute to our nation’s research and innovation.
  • Increasing federal funds for graduate education programs by at least 10% at every agency.
  • Enhancing the quality of graduate education through ongoing evaluation and research, and supporting risk-taking research programs that prepare highly-trained professionals for a knowledge-based global economy.
  • While the findings and recommendations echo a lot of recent reports -- the National Academies Rising Above the Gathering Storm, the Council on Competitiveness' Innovate America, the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation's Measuring the Moment -- it's very useful to have another perspective on innovation policy from another "sector" of the U.S. innovation ecosystem. And as innovation policy continues to swirl around the Hill, these reports provide the sort of buttressing policymakers need to continue to champion pro-innovation ideas.

    Posted by MelissaNorr at April 27, 2007 09:12 AM
    Posted to American Competitiveness Initiative | Events