NAFSA Board of Directors urges next President and Congress to advance international education

NAFSA: Association of International Educators is calling on the next President and Congress to adopt policies that will advance international education and study abroad, and help create a more “welcoming and globally engaged United States,” the PIE News reported recently.  

Noting that “international education is an often underutilized means by which the United States can refine our foreign policy, improve our national security, strengthen our economy and promote mutual understanding,” a NAFSA Board of Directors statement released in early June reads:

“We urge our nation’s leaders to advance study abroad and international learning; welcome international students and advance commonsense immigration solutions; and demonstrate our commitment to global engagement by continuing forward progress on Cuba and offering education and aid to refugees.”

Announcing the release of the Board statement, NAFSA CEO Marlene Johnson stressed the positive impact international education can have on U.S. foreign policy and national security, according to the PIE News. International education also helps improve the U.S. economy and foster mutual understanding and cooperation with other nations, Johnson added, echoing the Board of Directors statement.

The statement outlines concrete steps the next President and Congress can take to advance international education, including supporting efforts to increase the number of students who participate in study abroad programs. Only about one percent of U.S. students study abroad each year; within this one percent many student profiles, such as nontraditional students and students of color, are underrepresented. The NAFSA Board of Directors writes:

“Our next president and the U.S. Congress must work to eliminate the international education divide that disadvantages huge swaths of citizens by shutting them out of vitally important learning.”

To achieve this goal, the NAFSA Board urges future leaders to prioritize study abroad and international learning experiences, and to support federal programs and public-private partnerships designed to advance study abroad programs.

In addition to highlighting the necessity of increasing the number of American studying abroad, the Board statement further outlines some of the benefits of welcoming international students to the United States. Students bring academic and cultural value to campuses and communities across the U.S. According to NAFSA’s 2014-15 academic year economic analysis, international students attending U.S. colleges and universities also contributed $30.5 billion to the U.S. economy while supporting over 373, 000 jobs.