Collaboration with sector key for new int’l ed commitment

Earlier in July the US departments of State and Education published a statement that outlined plans for federal agencies to participate in a coordinated national approach to welcome international students, and scholars to the US.

“[We are] looking to continue a dialogue with our community counterparts, higher education counterparts as well as those around the world”

During a country spotlight panel on the US, Anthony Koliha, director of the Office of Global Educational Programs at the Department of State went into detail about new government commitments to promote the country as a study destination.

“This isn’t about any one project or initiative. So I think it starts with a reiteration of the value of international education and that has been done,” said Koliha.

“What you see in there is the emphasis on these different components, and we don’t have enough time to go into all of them, but it’s from K-12 education, all the way up to the highest levels of higher education and advanced research.

“You’ve got student mobility to the US and from the US, you’ve got an emphasis on our classroom internationalisation, both physical and virtual tools to do that, as well as science and innovation,” he added.

Koliha noted there will be an improvement of collaboration within and across the US government and the various agencies.

“I think we’re already doing that. [We are] looking to continue a dialogue with our US community counterparts, higher education counterparts as well as those around the world, to find out where the opportunities to make improvements are, to do that individually, collectively in and across government.”

According to Koliha, exchanges will be crucial to the success of the new initiative.

“[We are] working with higher education institutions, with prospective students, with faculty, with administrators, to find those opportunities to continue to improve. We rolled out the beginning of a marketing campaign to promote study in the US. Many institutions do this themselves,” he said.

“We want to do it collectively, highlighting why people choose the US is the number one study destination, the world quality research curriculum opportunities, flexible schedules, flexible degrees and really the international and US relations people build that sustain them throughout their lives and sustain us as a country.

“We’re doubling down on that and you’ll see more and more results, both to market the US and those relationships, both university to university partnerships, as well as student and scholarly mobility writ large,” he added.

“This recommitment signals the enthusiasm around the opportunities to engage again with the US after the last administration”

During the session, panelists welcomed the commitment from the US government. Joann Ng Hartmann, senior director, IEM-ISS Services and Volunteer Engagement at NAFSA, said that it is an exciting time for the US in terms of higher education and international education.

“This recommitment signals the enthusiasm by the Biden administration and just at large around the opportunities to engage again with the US after the last administration,” she said.

“Perception matters so much to the parents, to the students, to everyone just in general on many, many levels.”

Ng Hartmann said that NAFSA has long advocated for a coordinated national strategy in the US.

“So we’re really, really excited that at this level there is a statement for a plan to roll out some coordinated efforts,” she added.

According to Ng Hartmann, NAFSA is recommending that there are specific target enrolments around engagement with a broader number of the country’s institutions to attract a pool of diverse students from a wider range of countries and regions.

“The access issue is very critical. I think it would be helpful to increase funding for the Department of State’s Education USA with advising overseas because they do the groundwork.

“They are local, they talk to students and they are there. I think supporting immigration legislation that makes the US a more attractive place for international students, such as dual intent and creating a path for permanent residence, are some things that we believe would be good places to start with,” she added.

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