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recent trend in pronunciation of "student"

In pronouncing the "e" in "student", the tongue may or may not leave the gum (similarly, the "o" in "Clinton", etc.).

(1) There must be a more precise term for the part of the mouth that I'm referring to. What is it?

(2) How would these two pronunciations be characterized in linguistic terms?

(3) Is there any scientific evidence suggesting a trend toward one pronunciation over the other?