Department of State news

The U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (USACPD) today released its 2016 Comprehensive Annual Report on Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting Actives, detailing roughly $1.8 billion in programs worldwide. The report offers analysis, research and evaluation, policy recommendations, regional overviews, and country-specific spotlights for a host of public diplomacy and international broadcasting programs, including Department of State exchanges.

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Secretary of State John Kerry and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced a new partnership to support the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program by helping send more students to study abroad. In remarks delivered yesterday at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Secretary Kerry highlighted the importance of public-private partnerships to help increase global interconnectedness and mutual understanding:  

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A year after the U.S. Department of State launched its Study Abroad branch, branch chief Leanne Dunsmore reported a successful beginning as the branch strives to increase participation in and the diversification of study abroad.

Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its FY17 State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS) spending bill, including State Department exchanges. The House SFOPS subcommittee also released a draft bill text in advance of the mark-up of its FY17 SFOPS spending bill tomorrow.

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Achievements and further expansions in exchange programs between citizens of the United States and the People’s Republic of China were discussed by top diplomats at the China-U.S. Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE) last week in Beijing.

Throughout the seventh annual high-level meetings, co-chaired by Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, top government officials met with participants of past exchange programs and expressed strong support for the continuation of these initiatives.

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Institutional grants and scholarship programs are increasing participation in study abroad, and helping students prepare for future career choices, according to two reports released during the 2016 NAFSA conference last week. Both reports specifically highlight the positive impact of these funding opportunities on students from underrepresented populations.

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The U.S. Department of State is planning to soon publish a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) with a 60-day comment period on the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program. The rule could be released as soon as late April. 

The Department published an initial interim final rule (IFR) with request for comment in April 2011 to amend the regulatory requirements of the SWT program. In May 2012, the Department published a second interim final rule that, among other things, added a cultural component and expanded the list of jobs prohibited under the SWT program. 

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International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) participants are contributing to U.S. counter-terrorism efforts through the State Department’s P2P: Challenging Extremism initiative, according to a recent article in Vice News.

In an effort to increase the diversity of its grantees, the Fulbright Program is increasing engagement with its alumni, according to a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

International education experts agree that one-on-one conversations provide the best opportunity for underrepresented students to learn about the program, The Chronicle notes:

In the last budget request of his presidency, President Obama requested $628.9 million for core Department of State educational and cultural exchange programs.

This request represents an approximately 6.4% increase over the FY16 funding level of $590.9 million—a robust number in difficult budget times (nearly $6 million higher than last year’s request of $623 million), and a concrete sign of the Obama administration’s support of exchanges.

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