Posted on February 3, 2005

Gates Laments Visa-Related Brain Drain

Hispanic Business, Jan. 31

Tougher U.S. visa laws could cost the country its leading worldwide role in computer sciences, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has warned.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Gates said the United States’ status as “the IQ magnet of the world” was threatened as a result of the tougher immigration rules introduced in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“There has been a 35 percent drop in Asians coming to our computer science departments,” Gates said Sunday. “It really is a very bad thing for a very key area.”

At the educational level, Gates pointed to the difference between emerging markets such as India and China, where about 40 percent of students take engineering degrees and the United States, where the proportion is about 4 percent.

Gates’ remarks are similar to those made last year by Harvard President Larry Summers, who warned the United States would lose “incalculable benefits” if the next generation of foreign leaders chose to be educated elsewhere.