Andrew Hamilton, president of New York University, called a State Department plan to restrict visas for Chinese graduate students "too blunt an instrument" to protect U.S. research from theft in this commentary published by The Washington Post.
"Our research universities need the widest possible latitude to select the best students, he wrote, noting that roughly a third of U.S. Nobel laureates over the last five years were born outside of the U.S.
"Chinese PhD students and postdoctoral researchers in science departments across the country have proved themselves to be among the most talented," Hamilton said. "Making them unwelcome would result in two outcomes: The best of them will go elsewhere — Australia’s universities, or Western Europe’s — and science here will begin to ossify."
Additionally, welcoming international students to U.S. universities is a powerful part of our country's soft diplomacy since the students learn about our national values while pursuing a degree.
"One of the most troubling aspects of the federal government’s proposal is that it was undertaken without meaningful consultation with the higher education community," Hamilton wrote. Before we take steps that we later regret, Hamilton proposed creating a forum for the academic research community and national security agencies to discuss the best ways to protect our technology.
"There is a great deal at stake in sustaining and protecting research programs at U.S. universities," he wrote. "Either too weak or too strong a reaction to the theft of our technological innovations could derail our scientific competitiveness."