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Foreign University Degrees No Guarantee of Literacy or Numeracy

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Foreign University Degrees No Guarantee of Literacy or Numeracy


The immigration industry in Canada like to boast that newcomers are more highly educated than Canadians. However, even if the credentials are not fake (and many a university graduation certificate is bought in India and China), the poor quality of many Third World post-secondary institutions make these credentials less impressive than they may at first sound

Foreign College Degrees Are Not Evidence of ‘High-Skill’ Immigration

Washington, D.C. (February 25, 2019) – A new report published by the Center for Immigration Studies shows that immigrants with foreign college degrees perform substantially worse than those with U.S. degrees on tests of literacy, numeracy, and computer operations. The results, based on tests administered by the Program for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), may help explain why the rising education level of new immigrants has not improved employment, income, poverty, and welfare use as much as expected.

Jason Richwine, an independent public policy analyst and the author of the report, commented, “Policy-makers should be cautious in treating foreign degrees as evidence of ‘high-skill’ immigration. If legislators are considering a move towards a merit-based system, they should look beyond educational credentials.”

panel discussion on the study is planned for later this week.

View the full report at: https://cis.org/Report/ForeignEducated-Immigrants-Are-Less-Skilled-US-Degree-Holders

Key points:

  • Among immigrants in the United States whose highest degree is either a bachelor’s (“college”) or a master’s or Ph.D. (“advanced”), about 40 percent received their highest degree in a foreign country — meaning they are “foreign educated”.
  • On both literacy and computer operations, foreign-educated immigrants with a college or advanced degree perform so poorly that they score at the level of natives who have only a high school diploma.
  • On numeracy, foreign-educated immigrants with a college or advanced degree perform closer to the level of natives who have some college education, but not a bachelor’s degree.
  • Despite their reputation for specializing in STEM fields, about one in six foreign-degree holders score “below basic” in numeracy.
  • The skill gap between foreign and U.S. degree holders persists even among immigrants who have had at least five years in the United States to learn English.
  • A skill-selective immigration system could incorporate direct testing of applicants rather than rely on their educational attainment alone.
Marguerite Telford
Director of Communications, Center for Immigration Studies
(202) 466-8185