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In the 1983 American Institute of Physics (AIP) Graduate Student Survey, the issue of foreign versus national students in U.S. graduate programs was explored. In the past decade, the number of entering graduate students from foreign nations in American universities has risen from about 600 to about 1100, an increase from 23% in 1973 to 40% in 1983 of all entering physics graduate students in the United States. There are more than 10,000 graduate students in physics in the United States

The benefits, or lack thereof, of having foreign graduate students raises a number of philosophical points. Like all students, foreign students learn from academic programs; but at high competitive levels, they contribute as well. The essence of growth in any academic program is described by the creativity supplied by ever incoming students. In an academically competitive system the question of foreign students displacing U.S. students in graduate programs has no definition. On the other hand, what about the graduate job market after graduation? Some would point to the return of foreign graduates to their homeland as an example of U.S. education efforts not benefitting U.S. society, at least directly. Others worry about foreign graduates flooding the U.S. job market.