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Part-time Graduate Enrollment in Science and Engineering in 2011 Grew at a Higher Rate than Full-time Enrollment

NSF 13-328 | June 2013 | PDF format. PDF  
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by Ruth Heuer and Peter Einaudi[1]

Over the past decade, enrollment of full-time graduate students in science and engineering (S&E) grew approximately 25%, from approximately 325,500 students in 2002 to approximately 411,200 in 2011. Enrollment of part-time graduate students increased approximately 15% during this period. From 2010 to 2011, growth in part-time graduate enrollment (1.6%) outpaced that of full-time enrollment (0.5%) for the first time since 2005 (table 1).

TABLE 1. Graduate enrollment in science and engineering fields, by enrollment status, sex, citizenship, ethnicity, and race: 2002–11
% change
Characteristic 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
olda
2007
newa
2008 2009 2010 2011 2002–
11b
2010–
11
All graduate students in surveyed fields 454,834 474,645 475,873 478,275 486,287 502,375 516,199 529,275 545,685 556,532 560,941 25 0.8
Full time 325,472 339,028 340,529 341,742 349,802 362,976 371,542 383,560 398,498 409,107 411,168 25 0.5
Part time 129,362 135,617 135,344 136,533 136,485 139,399 144,657 145,715 147,187 147,425 149,773 15 1.6
Male 266,217 276,248 274,008 271,967 275,181 284,080 288,926 297,278 307,936 316,051 318,209 20 0.7
Female 188,617 198,397 201,865 206,308 211,106 218,295 227,273 231,997 237,749 240,481 242,732 30 0.9
U.S. citizens and permanent residentsc 309,119 327,181 332,022 338,513 343,603 353,142 365,091 369,781 382,342 390,403 392,160 25 0.5
Hispanic or Latino 19,634 21,241 22,212 23,387 24,140 25,032 25,739 26,098 27,265 28,609 30,808 55 7.7
Not Hispanic or Latino
American Indian or Alaska Native 1,734 1,879 1,848 1,958 2,112 2,168 2,262 2,618 2,549 2,500 2,392 40 -4.3
Asiand 28,290 30,746 29,570 29,547 29,232 30,134 30,697 30,356 31,754 32,185 33,147 15 3.0
Black or African American 22,668 24,174 24,624 25,248 25,664 26,565 27,637 28,680 29,973 31,094 32,197 40 3.5
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanderd 939 1,040 1,075 1,027 947 1,145 1,200 1,121 1,125 1,088 1,008 5 -7.4
White 213,135 222,674 224,850 225,776 227,993 232,043 240,204 242,623 250,443 255,256 256,096 20 0.3
More than one raced 384 423 493 528 501 543 551 1,319 2,300 4,989 6,103 1,490 22.3
Unknown ethnicity or race 22,335 25,004 27,350 31,042 33,014 35,512 36,801 36,966 36,933 34,682 30,409 35 -12.3
Temporary visa holders 145,715 147,464 143,851 139,762 142,684 149,233 151,108 159,494 163,343 166,129 168,781 15 1.6

a In 2007, eligible fields were reclassified, newly eligible fields were added, and the survey was redesigned to improve coverage and coding of eligible units. "2007new" presents data as collected in 2007; "2007old" shows data as they would have been collected in prior years. Due to survey methodological changes, counts should be used with caution for trend analysis. See http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf10307/ for more detail.
b Amounts for "% change 2002–11" are rounded to the nearest 5% to reflect the imprecision of this estimate due to the survey methodological changes in 2007.
c Ethnicity and race data are available for U.S. citizens and permanent residents only.
d Reporting of race and ethnicity in the 2008–11 GSS has been affected by changes in reporting of race and ethnicity in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Starting in 2008 IPEDS respondents were asked to use new race classification that included a category for two or more races and separate reporting of Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders from Asians. New classification was optional in 2008 and 2009 IPEDS but mandatory in 2010 and may have contributed to significant increase in GSS reporting of "More than one race," not Hispanic.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, NSF-NIH Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering.

Table 1 Source Data: Excel file

Graduate student enrollment among U.S. citizens and permanent residents in S&E grew from approximately 309,100 students in 2002 to approximately 392,200 in 2011, an increase of approximately 25%. Enrollment among foreign students on temporary visas showed slower growth over the course of the past decade, from approximately 145,700 to approximately 168,800 (approximately 15% growth). The growth in foreign graduate enrollment from 2010 to 2011 was higher than that of U.S. citizens and permanent residents (1.6% compared with 0.5%), in contrast to the previous 2�years.

These and other findings in this InfoBrief are from the fall 2011 Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering (GSS), cosponsored by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This Info�Brief focuses primarily on the graduate students and postdocs within S&E fields, although totals in selected health fields are presented for comparison. Further analysis of GSS data on grad�uate enrollment in selected health fields can be obtained from NIH.[2]

Due to the extra variability that may have resulted from the methodological changes in the 2007 GSS, all numbers and growth rate calculations comparing pre- and post-2007 counts are rounded to the nearest 100 and to the nearest 5%, respectively. See "Data Sources and Limitations" for more information.

Graduate Student Enrollment in S&E

A total of 560,941 full- or part-time graduate students were enrolled in S&E fields in 2011. Growth in S&E graduate enrollment slowed to 0.8% from 2010 to 2011, down from the 2%–3% annual growth in each of the prior 3 years (table 2).

TABLE 2. Graduate enrollment in science, engineering, and health, by field: 2002–11
% change
Field 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
olda
2007
newa
2008 2009 2010 2011 2002–
11b
2010–
11
All surveyed fields 540,404 567,121 574,463 582,226 597,643 607,823 619,499 631,489 631,645 632,652 626,820 15 -0.9
Science and engineering 454,834 474,645 475,873 478,275 486,287 502,375 516,199 529,275 545,685 556,532 560,941 25 0.8
Science 335,166 347,268 352,307 357,710 363,246 372,120 384,523 391,419 401,008 407,291 414,440 25 1.8
Agricultural sciences 12,698 13,197 13,445 13,123 13,016 13,222 13,528 14,153 15,200 15,656 16,129 25 3.0
Biological sciences 61,088 64,701 66,565 68,479 69,941 71,663 71,932 72,666 73,304 74,928 75,423 25 0.7
Computer sciences 55,269 53,696 50,016 47,978 47,653 48,959 48,246 49,553 51,161 51,546 51,234 -5 -0.6
Earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences 14,240 14,620 15,131 14,836 14,920 14,675 14,100 14,389 14,839 15,655 15,820 10 1.1
Mathematical sciences 18,163 19,465 19,931 20,210 20,815 21,335 20,975 21,400 22,226 23,136 23,801 30 2.9
Physical sciences 32,341 34,298 35,761 36,375 36,901 37,111 36,824 37,319 38,149 38,973 39,694 25 1.8
Psychologyc 51,152 52,162 54,126 57,282 57,653 60,284 59,617 58,991 56,184 53,419 54,486 5 2.0
Social sciences 90,215 95,129 97,332 99,427 102,347 104,871 103,150 103,384 107,820 109,220 111,661 25 2.2
Other sciencesa,d ne ne ne ne ne ne 16,151 19,564 22,125 24,758 26,192 - 5.8
Engineering 119,668 127,377 123,566 120,565 123,041 130,255 131,676 137,856 144,677 149,241 146,501 20 -1.8
Aerospace engineering 3,685 4,048 4,089 4,170 4,482 4,616 4,616 4,902 5,266 5,540 5,691 55 2.7
Architecturea ne ne ne ne ne ne 4,601 5,905 6,804 6,795 3,111 - -54.2
Biomedical engineering 4,338 5,301 5,807 6,067 6,482 6,881 6,904 7,339 7,904 8,497 9,175 110 8.0
Chemical engineering 7,414 7,516 7,452 7,173 7,261 7,383 7,584 7,892 8,188 8,668 8,828 20 1.8
Civil engineeringa 17,713 18,890 18,561 18,114 17,802 19,867 16,071 16,931 18,638 19,559 19,596 10 0.2
Electrical engineering 39,948 41,763 38,995 37,450 38,265 40,207 40,588 41,164 41,218 41,336 41,580 5 0.6
Industrial engineering 14,033 14,313 13,852 13,650 13,829 14,290 14,474 15,692 15,825 15,205 14,494 5 -4.7
Mechanical engineering 17,139 18,393 17,852 17,373 17,919 18,366 18,347 19,585 21,243 22,509 21,883 30 -2.8
Metallurgical/materials engineering 4,992 5,131 5,059 5,160 5,268 5,365 5,314 5,539 5,863 6,274 6,649 35 6.0
Other engineering 10,406 12,022 11,899 11,408 11,733 13,280 13,177 12,907 13,728 14,858 15,494 50 4.3
Health 85,570 92,476 98,590 103,951 111,356 105,448 103,300 102,214 85,960 76,120 65,879 -25 -13.5
Clinical medicinea,e 19,166 20,574 20,866 21,414 23,441 24,616 22,751 23,939 24,125 25,699 26,634 40 3.6
Other healthc 66,404 71,902 77,724 82,537 87,915 80,832 80,549 78,275 61,835 50,421 39,245 -40 -22.2

- = not calculable. ne = not eligible; data were not collected for this field prior to 2007.

a In 2007, eligible fields were reclassified, newly eligible fields were added, and the survey was redesigned to improve coverage and coding of eligible units. "2007new" presents data as collected in 2007; "2007old" shows data as they would have been collected in prior years. Due to survey methodological changes, counts should be used with caution for trend analysis. See http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf10307/ for more detail.
b Amounts for "% change 2002–11" are rounded to the nearest 5% to reflect the imprecision of this estimate due to the survey methodological changes in 2007.
c Beginning with 2008, more rigorous follow-up was done with institutions regarding exclusion of practitioner-oriented graduate degree programs in psychology and in other health. This change may affect interpretation of trends in these fields.
d Includes communication, family and consumer sciences/human sciences, neuroscience, and multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary studies. These fields were added in 2007, although some programs reported within them had been reported prior to 2007 within other fields.
e Includes research-oriented graduate students in anesthesiology, cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, hematology, neurology, obstetrics/gynecology, oncology/cancer research, ophthalmology, otorhinolaryngology, pediatrics, preventive medicine/community health, psychiatry, pulmonary disease, radiology, surgery, and clinical medicine, not elsewhere classified.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, NSF-NIH Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering.

Table 2 Source Data: Excel file

Women's enrollment in S&E graduate programs increased at a faster rate than men's from 2010 to 2011 (0.9% vs. 0.7%, respectively) (table 1). This reestablished the long-term trend toward gender parity in S&E enrollment, following a 3-year period during which male enrollment increased more rapidly than female enrollment. In 2011, women made up 43.3% of the S&E graduate student population, up from 41.5% in 2002.

Nearly two-thirds (65.3%) of U.S. citizens and permanent resident graduate students in 2011 were white. The remaining one-third consisted of graduate students who were Asian (8.5%), black or African American (8.2%), Hispanic or Latino (7.9%), of unknown race or ethnicity (7.8%), more than one race (1.6%), American Indian or Alaska Native (0.6%), or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (0.3%). This distribution is the most diverse enrollment to date, with whites representing 65.3% of U.S. citizens and permanent resident graduate students in 2011, down from 68.9% in 2002.

The number of graduate students enrolled in science fields has grown steadily over the past decade (approximately 25% from 2002 to 2011), with 1.8% growth from 2010 to 2011. Growth in engineering shows signs of leveling off, with the number of engineering graduate students decreasing (-1.8%) for the first year since 2005. Certain fields within engineering—most notably, biomedical engineering and metallurgical or materials engineering—continue to climb at a higher rate (8.0% and 6.0%, respectively, from 2010 to 2011) than other engineering fields. The notable decline in architecture (-54.2%) is likely due to the exclusion of landscape architecture from GSS eligible fields in 2011.

Postdoctoral Appointees in S&E

The GSS also collects information about postdoctoral appointees (postdocs) employed at U.S. academic institutions (and their affiliates, such as research centers and hospitals) with graduate programs in S&E and selected health fields. A total of 44,249 S&E postdocs were reported in 2011, a slight increase (0.4%) over 2010 (table 3).

TABLE 3. Postdoctoral appointees in science, engineering, and health, by sex, citizenship, ethnicity, race, and field: 2002–11
% change
Characteristic 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
olda
2007
newa
2008 2009 2010 2011 2002–
11b
2010–
11
All postdocs in surveyed fields 45,034 46,728 47,240 48,555 49,343 50,712 50,840 54,164 57,805 63,415 62,947 40 -0.7
Science and engineering 31,937 33,666 34,065 34,456 34,887 35,894 36,223 38,203 40,804 44,051 44,249 40 0.4
Male 21,807 22,882 23,080 23,227 23,361 24,412 24,631 25,119 26,647 28,752 28,650 30 -0.4
Female 10,130 10,784 10,985 11,229 11,526 11,482 11,592 13,084 14,157 15,299 15,599 55 2.0
U.S. citizens and permanent residentsc 13,524 13,542 13,969 14,078 14,111 14,903 15,107 16,274 18,175 20,419 20,684 55 1.3
Hispanic or Latino na na na na na na na na na 763 866 - 13.5
Not Hispanic or Latino
American Indian or Alaska Native na na na na na na na na na 59 65 - 10.2
Asiand na na na na na na na na na 3,371 3,384 - 0.4
Black or African American na na na na na na na na na 529 585 - 10.6
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanderd na na na na na na na na na 51 52 - 2.0
White na na na na na na na na na 11,084 11,399 - 2.8
More than one raced na na na na na na na na na 79 159 - 101.3
Unknown or not reported ethnicity or race na na na na na na na na na 4,483 4,174 - -6.9
Temporary visa holders 18,413 20,124 20,096 20,378 20,776 20,991 21,116 21,929 22,629 23,632 23,565 30 -0.3
Science 28,371 29,856 30,116 30,290 30,245 30,986 31,281 32,741 34,388 37,095 37,485 30 1.1
Agricultural sciences 963 1,054 959 1,007 927 948 985 1,147 1,083 1,195 1,257 30 5.2
Biological sciences 17,640 18,625 18,716 18,747 18,807 19,218 19,109 19,827 20,159 21,537 21,342 20 -0.9
Computer sciences 356 355 384 406 467 516 456 493 594 748 769 115 2.8
Earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences 1,129 1,182 1,263 1,364 1,495 1,322 1,250 1,339 1,424 1,760 1,771 55 0.6
Mathematical sciences 395 449 468 500 579 621 624 723 737 756 805 105 6.5
Physical sciences 6,619 6,829 7,059 7,011 6,703 6,760 6,719 6,885 7,447 7,703 7,511 15 -2.5
Psychology 815 960 902 884 873 1,106 1,088 1,077 1,219 1,077 1,079 30 0.2
Social sciences 454 402 365 371 394 495 483 508 561 646 773 70 19.7
Other sciencesa,e ne ne ne ne ne ne 567 742 1,164 1,673 2,178 - 30.2
Engineering 3,566 3,810 3,949 4,166 4,642 4,908 4,942 5,462 6,416 6,956 6,764 90 -2.8
Aerospace engineering 140 141 141 153 165 178 178 154 168 191 195 40 2.1
Architecturea ne ne ne ne ne ne 5 11 22 10 17 - 70.0
Biomedical engineering 284 388 425 477 591 640 640 710 960 1,036 1,076 280 3.9
Chemical engineering 758 686 689 702 735 758 790 880 1,084 1,092 1,137 50 4.1
Civil engineeringa 342 300 313 384 458 419 417 465 535 570 551 60 -3.3
Electrical engineering 613 646 654 689 721 885 884 987 1,025 1,097 1,062 75 -3.2
Industrial engineering 43 45 50 51 51 73 71 115 109 163 121 180 -25.8
Mechanical engineering 441 543 514 562 644 725 722 784 948 1,009 896 105 -11.2
Metallurgical/materials engineering 507 539 567 578 571 555 564 605 758 835 861 70 3.1
Other engineering 438 522 596 570 706 675 671 751 807 953 848 95 -11.0
Healtha 13,097 13,062 13,175 14,099 14,456 14,818 14,617 15,961 17,001 19,364 18,698 45 -3.4

- = not calculable; na = not applicable; data were not collected at this level of detail. ne = not eligible; data were not collected for this field prior to 2007.

a In 2007, eligible fields were reclassified, newly eligible fields were added, and the survey was redesigned to improve coverage and coding of eligible units. "2007new" presents data as collected in 2007; "2007old" shows data as they would have been collected in prior years. Due to survey methodological changes, counts should be used with caution for trend analysis. See http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf10307/ for more detail.
b Values for 2002–11 are rounded to the nearest 5% to reflect the imprecision of this estimate due to the survey methodological changes in 2007.
c Ethnicity and race data are available for U.S. citizens and permanent residents only.
d Reporting of race and ethnicity in the 2008–11 GSS has been affected by changes in reporting of race and ethnicity in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Starting in 2008 IPEDS respondents were asked to use new race classification that included a category for two or more races and separate reporting of Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders from Asians. New classification was optional in 2008 and 2009 IPEDS but mandatory in 2010 and may have contributed to significant increase in GSS reporting of "More than one race," not Hispanic.
e Includes communication, family and consumer sciences/human sciences, neuroscience, and multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary studies. These fields were added in 2007, although some programs reported within them had been reported prior to 2007 within other fields.

NOTES: For postdocs, "field" refers to the field of the unit that reports postdocs to the GSS.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, NSF-NIH Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering.

Table 3 Source Data: Excel file

The gender gap among S&E postdocs continues to close, with women making up 35.3% of the S&E postdocs in 2011, up from 34.7% in 2010 and 31.7% in 2002. Over the past decade, the number of female postdocs in S&E grew by approximately 55%, compared with approximately 30% for the male postdocs. The proportion of foreign S&E postdocs with temporary visas has declined over the past decade, from 57.7% in 2002 to 53.3% in 2011.

The number of science postdocs has grown consistently over the past decade (about 30% between 2002 and 2011), with a 1.1% increase from 2010 to 2011 (table 3 and figure 1). Among science fields, the number of postdocs in social sciences and "other sciences" grew the most between 2010 and 2011, with increases of 19.7% and 30.2%, respectively.[3] The growth in other sciences was largely due to an increase in neuroscience, the result of improvements in field coding. Starting in 2007, neuroscience was specified as a separate field. Neuroscience units that were previously reported within neurology (clinical medicine) and biological sciences are reported within the neuroscience field.


FIGURE 1. Postdoctoral appointees in science, engineering, and health fields: 2002–11.

  Figure 1 Source Data: Excel file

The notable decrease in the number of engineering postdocs (-2.8%) in 2011 is in contrast with the tremendous growth over the past decade (approximately 90%). The numbers of biomedical engineering and industrial engineering postdocs increased by approximately 280% and approximately 180%, respectively, between 2002 and 2011. Chemical engineering, biomedical engineering, and electrical engineering were the top three engineering fields with the most postdocs in 2011; however, the number of electrical engineering postdocs declined (-3.2%), whereas the numbers of chemical engineering and biomedical engineering postdocs continued to grow (4.1% and 3.9%, respectively) from 2010 to 2011.

Data Sources and Limitations

Conducted since 1966, the GSS is an annual survey of all academic institutions in the United States granting research-based master's or doctoral degrees in science, engineering, or selected health (SEH) fields. The 2011 GSS collected data from 13,785 organizational units (departments, programs, affiliated research centers, and health care facilities) at 565 institutions of higher education and their affiliates in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Guam. The institutional response rate was 98.8%. An overview of the survey is available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/srvygradpostdoc/.

GSS data are collected for the organizational units where graduate students, postdocs, or other doctorate-holding nonfaculty researchers in research-oriented SEH fields are located. Practitioner-oriented degrees within these units (e.g., master’s degrees in nursing or physical therapy) are not eligible to be surveyed by the GSS. Declines in graduate enrollments in psychology and other health fields since 2008 are likely due to more rigorous follow-up with institutions regarding the exclusion of ineligible practitioner-oriented graduate degree programs. These decreases may not reflect changes in enrollment, and care should be used when examining trends.

In 2010, the postdoc section of the survey was expanded, and significant effort was made to ensure that appropriate personnel were providing the postdoc data (see http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/gradpostdoc/ for more detail). Thus it is unclear how much of the increase reported in 2010 and 2011 represents growth in the number of postdocs and how much results from improved data collection. More information on changes in postdoc data will be available in a forthcoming InfoBrief at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/gradpostdoc/.

There were a number of changes to the 2011 GSS based on field taxonomy updates to the 2010 U.S. Department of Education Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) codes; however, impact on overall counts was minimal. See appendix A, "Technical Notes," in Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering: Fall 2011 (forthcoming at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/gradpostdoc/) for additional information about the 2011 GSS field taxonomy updates.

In 2007, eligible fields were reclassified, newly eligible fields were added, and the survey was redesigned to improve coverage and coding of eligible units. "2007new" presents data as collected in 2007, and "2007old" presents data as they would have been collected in 2006. Due to methodological changes in 2007, the data collected from 2007 through 2011 are not strictly comparable to those collected prior to 2007. As a result, care should be used when assessing trends within the GSS data. Ten-year trends reported in the tables are labeled "% change 2002–11." Note that these percentages are rounded to the nearest 5% and counts are rounded to the nearest 100 to reflect the extra variability in the estimate that may have resulted from the methodological changes that occurred in 2007. Please see appendix A, "Technical Notes," in Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering: Fall 2007 (NSF 10-307) for a more detailed discussion of these changes.

Reporting of ethnicity and race in 2008–11 has been affected by changes in reporting of ethnicity and race in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Starting in 2008, IPEDS respondents were asked to use a new classification that included a category for two or more races (see http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/reic/resource.asp) and separate reporting of Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders from Asians. The new classification was optional in 2008 and 2009 IPEDS but mandatory in 2010 and may have contributed to a significant increase in reporting of "Not Hispanic or Latino, More than one race" within the GSS data.

This publication provides the first release of data from the fall 2011 cycle of the GSS. The full set of detailed statistical tables from this survey will be available in the forthcoming report Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering: Fall 2011 at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/gradpostdoc/. Individual detailed tables may be available upon request in advance of publication of the full report. For further information, contact Kelly H. Kang.

Notes

[1] Ruth Heuer and Peter Einaudi are research analysts with RTI International. For further information, contact Kelly H. Kang, Human Resources Statistics Program, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965, Arlington, VA 22230 (kkang@nsf.gov; 703-292-7796).

[2] The data on health fields collected in GSS are selected by NIH. These fields make up about one-third of all health fields in the U.S. Department of Educa�tion�s Classification of Instructional Programs taxonomy. NIH information on trends seen within these selected health fields can be found at http://www.report.nih.gov/nihdatabook/.

[3] In the GSS, field of postdoc refers to the field of the unit that reports postdocs to the survey.


National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
Part-time Graduate Enrollment in Science and Engineering in 2011 Grew at a Higher Rate than Full-time Enrollment
Arlington, VA (NSF 13-328) [June 2013]


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