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Foreign student scrutiny

Proposed US panel would review visa applications for students of sensitive science.

Harvey Black(hblack@chorus.net)

According to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), students from nations that sponsor terrorism could be learning in American universities the very skills they need to harm the US later on. To address this potential threat, OSTP is proposing a special panel to review visa applications from would-be students of "sensitive" science — a change from current policy, under which the State Department performs background checks on such visa applicants — and some worry, a possible threat to learning and research.

The House of Representatives Science Committee heard testimony on October 10 from OSTP director John Marburger about the need for an Interagency Panel on Advanced Science and Security (IPASS). The panel would take over review of visa applications from foreign nationals planning study in fields such as nuclear engineering, organic chemistry, biotechnology-related disciplines, and others that might be applied to warfare.

In addition, Marburger told...

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