|FULL STATEMENT :
Company/Organization/University: Alliance for International Education and Cultural Exchange
International Education Post-September 11
NAFSA and the Alliance have long maintained that international education and exchange are critical components of U.S. national security and foreign policy. As the United States seeks to fashion its response to the tragic events of September 11, this type of engagement with the world is even more important.
It is through international education that our nation will expand the educational and exchange infrastructure through which we produce and renew foreign-language and foreign-area expertise. The decline in competence in this area became strikingly apparent when September 11 revealed the paucity of expertise in critical languages and areas in federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies. This is a direct reflection of the demise of teaching and research capacity in these subjects at our academic institutions.
It is through international education that we will continue to renew our capacity for global leadership by educating successive generations of future world leaders, who come to the United States as international students. The exaggerated and inaccurate rhetoric about foreign students that has become too common since September 11 has obscured the indisputable reality that foreign students are overwhelmingly a net asset for U.S. security. They are a critical component of graduate education in the United States, and they bring important educational, economic, and cultural benefits to colleges, universities, and communities across the country. Most importantly, they are possibly the most under-appreciated success of U.S. foreign policy. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has said, "I can think of no more valuable asset to our country than the friendship of future world leaders who have been educated here." Granted that appropriate immigration controls are necessary, the United States must continue to welcome foreign students.
It is through international education that we will send more American students to study abroad and prepare them to function effectively in a global environment. In this day and age – and especially since September 11 – no American should graduate from college without a basic knowledge of at least one world area and foreign language. The best way to accomplish this is by making study abroad a routine component of U.S. undergraduate education. Polling data suggest that students and parents recognize the importance of language learning and study abroad--but resource constraints, lack of programs, rigidities in higher education curricula, and student perceptions of the job market have combined to limit participation. The United States can no longer afford to be passive about promoting study abroad.
It is through international educational and cultural exchanges that we will promote international understanding and introduce foreign citizens, scholars, and professionals to the United States. Post-September 11, the fundamental U.S. interest in providing opportunities for people from other countries to experience and understand the United States could not be clearer. Yet funding for exchange programs has declined by 40 percent in real-dollar terms over the past decade. This situation cannot be allowed to continue.
NAFSA: Association of International Educators and the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange. (January 2002). “International Education Post-September 11”
Toward an International Education Policy for the United States: A White Paper for the President-elect’s Transition Team
“In the two decades following World War II, visionary leaders understood that the
challenges of the cold war required that Americans be knowledgeable about the world,
and they created international education programs to endow Americans with the skills
necessary to compete in that environment. Today our nation faces global challenges that,
although less stark, are at least as profound. Yet our commitment as a nation to
international education..that is, to imparting effective global literacy to students and
other citizens as an integral part of their education..is in doubt.
The end of the cold war did not mean an end to international, civil, and ethnic conflict.
The defense of U.S. interests and the effective management of global unrest in the next
century will require more, not less, ability on the part of Americans to understand the
world in terms other than their own.
Globalization is obliterating the distinction between foreign and domestic concerns.
Most domestic problems in today.s world are also international. The global economic
and technology revolutions are redefining the nation.s economic security and reshaping
business, life, and work. The opening of global markets, the explosion of trade, the
globalizing effects of Internet technology, and the need for U.S. business to compete in
countries around the world require much more global content in all U.S. education, as
well as more Americans with specific foreign language and country expertise.
The world is coming to us, like it or not. Immigrants are changing the face of American
society. Foreign-born experts pace America.s scientific leadership. The American
workforce is now multicultural, and customers for American products are found
everywhere the Internet goes. These realities help fuel U.S. development, but they also
create new needs, both for managers who can think globally and for tolerance and cross-
cultural sensitivity in our neighborhoods and workplaces.
In short, international and cross-cultural awareness and understanding on the part of U.S.
citizens will be crucial to effective U.S. leadership, competitiveness, prosperity, and
national security in the next century. Yet..all the laws on the books notwithstanding..
the United States effectively lacks a coherent, coordinated, operational policy for
educating its citizens internationally.
What is needed is a policy that promotes international education in the broadest sense,
including supporting the learning of foreign languages and in-depth knowledge of other
cultures by Americans, promoting study abroad by U.S. students, encouraging students
from other countries to study in the United States, facilitating the exchange of scholars
and of citizens at all levels of society, and supporting the educational infrastructure
through which we produce international competence and research.
On April 19, 2000, President Clinton issued a memorandum to federal agencies
instructing them to take certain steps to promote and facilitate international education.
Under the leadership of the Departments of State and Education, a great deal of useful
work has been done to implement that memorandum, including the celebration of the first
.International Education Week. November 13-17, 2000, which was a resounding success
on campuses and in communities across the nation. But much more can and must be
done. We call upon the new administration to renew and strengthen the U.S.
commitment to international education, building on the last administration.s initiative.
ELEMENTS OF AN INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION POLICY
An international education policy that effectively promotes U.S. interests in the twenty-
first century should do the following:
International, Foreign Language, and Area Expertise
Globalization expands the nation.s need for international competence. To maintain
U.S. security, well being, and global economic leadership, we need to increase the
depth and variety of international expertise of Americans in government, business,
education, the media, and other fields. Although the Internet dramatically increases
opportunities for global collaboration, technology alone cannot substitute for the
expertise developed through serious study and substantive international experience.
American foreign language skills are in critically short supply and will remain so
until we take bold steps to enhance the infrastructure for teaching foreign languages
in our institutions. The U.S. government requires 34,000 employees with foreign
language skills, and American business increasingly needs internationally and multi-
culturally experienced employees to compete in a global economy and to manage a
culturally diverse workforce.
An international education policy should:
International Student Recruitment
- Set an objective that international education become an integral component of
U.S. undergraduate education, with every college graduate achieving proficiency
in a foreign language and attaining a basic understanding of at least one world
area by 2015. New technologies should be employed creatively to help achieve
- Promote cultural and foreign language study in primary and secondary education
so that entering college students will have increased proficiency in these areas.
- Through graduate and professional training and research, enhance the nation.s
capacity to produce the international, regional, international business, and foreign-
language expertise necessary for U.S. global leadership and security.
- Encourage international institutional partnerships that will facilitate
internationalized curricula, collaborative research, and faculty and student
The millions of people who have studied in the United States over the years constitute
a remarkable reservoir of goodwill for our country, perhaps our most underrated
foreign policy asset. To educate international students is to have an opportunity to
shape the future leaders who will guide the political and economic development of
their countries. Such students gain an in-depth exposure to American values and to
our successful multicultural democracy, and they take those values back home to
support democracy and market economies.
International students contribute significantly to national, state, and local economies;
the more-than 500,000 who studied in the United States in the academic year 1999-
2000 at the post-secondary level, along with their dependents, spent more than $13
billion on tuition, fees, and living expenses, making international education the fifth-
largest U.S. service-sector export. For a generation, the United States could take for
granted its position as the destination of choice for international students. This is no
longer the case. For lack of a proactive policy for attracting such students, the United
States is losing its dominance of the international student market to the United
Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries that have launched
aggressive recruitment strategies. The U.S. share of the international student market
has fallen nearly ten percent in two decades.
Accordingly, an international education policy should:
- Set an objective to arrest the decline in the proportion of internationally mobile
students who select the United States for study at the post-secondary level and to
recapture 40 percent of this market for the United States.
- Promote the study of English by international students in the United States, and
promote the United States as the best global provider of English training services
- Modernize and streamline visa, taxation, and employment policies and regulations
to facilitate entry into the United States for bona fide short-term and degree
students and to enable these students to maximize their exposure to American
society and culture through internships and employment.
Although the number of American college and university students who study abroad
for credit is increasing.it topped 100,000 for the first time in 1997-98.study
abroad participants remain less than one percent of our roughly 15 million
undergraduates, and many students still lack access to study abroad programs through
their institutions. We need not only to vastly increase the numbers of U.S. students
studying abroad, but also to increase the proportion studying in non-European areas
of growing importance to U.S. interests, in academic and professional fields outside
the liberal arts, and in languages other than English.
If American students are to be able to function effectively in the world into which
they will graduate, it must become the routine.not the exception.for them to study
abroad in high quality programs. For that to happen, the United States requires a
policy to promote global learning.a policy that recognizes that providing Americans
with opportunities to acquire the skills, attitudes, and perceptions that allow them to
be globally and cross-culturally competent is central to U.S. security and economic
interests in the twenty-first century.
To this end, an international education policy should:
Exchanges of Citizens and Scholars
- Set an objective that 20 percent of American students receiving college degrees
will have studied abroad for credit by 2010, and 50 percent by 2040.
- Promote ethnic, socioeconomic, and gender diversity in study abroad.
- Promote the diversification of the study abroad experience, including: increased
study in nontraditional locations outside the United Kingdom and Western
Europe; increased study of major world languages..such as Arabic, Chinese,
Japanese, Portuguese, and Russian..that are less commonly learned by
Americans; and increased study of under-represented subjects such as
mathematical and physical sciences and business.
- Promote the integration of study abroad into the higher-education curriculum, and
increase opportunities for international internships and service learning.
The United States benefits from a great wealth of exchange programs, some federally
funded but many more funded privately. They operate at all levels, from high school
to higher education to the business and professional realms. Armies of American
volunteers make these programs possible, hosting visitors in their homes and serving
as resources and guides to their communities. Exchange programs uniquely engage
our citizenry in the pursuit of our country.s global interests, and offer opportunities
for substantive interaction in the broadest possible range of fields.
These exchanges also offer unparalleled opportunities for intercultural learning.
Many of today.s world leaders first experienced America and its values through
exchange programs. But these valuable programs are hemmed in by diminished
policy priority and by bureaucratically imposed regulations that make them more
difficult than necessary for nongovernmental and community organizations to
The international education policy should:
Mobilizing the Resources
- Invigorate federal programs and reform regulations governing private efforts in
order to promote citizen, professional, and other exchanges that bring future
leaders from around the world to the United States for substantive exposure to our
society, and that give future American leaders opportunities for similar
- Promote the international exchange of scholars in order to enhance the global
literacy of U.S. scholars, ensure that the United States builds relationships with
the best scholarly talent from abroad, and strengthen the international content of
The federal government cannot do it all. Colleges, universities, and community
colleges must further internationalize their curricula and campuses, and must provide
enhanced global opportunities for students and faculty. Higher education institutions,
state governments, private foundations, nongovernmental organizations, and the
business community (which will be the primary beneficiary of a globally literate
workforce) all need to accept their responsibilities, increase their support for
international education, and forge creative partnerships to achieve these important
national goals. But the federal role is crucial in setting a policy direction, creating a
conceptual understanding within which members of the public can define their roles,
and using federal resources to leverage action at other levels.
Accordingly, the policy should:
A CALL TO ACTION
- Clearly articulate the national interest in international education and set a strong
policy direction to which citizens can relate their own efforts.
- Dedicate federal resources that are appropriate for the national interests served.
- Stimulate involvement by, and leverage funding from, the states and the higher
education, business, and charitable communities.
To be an educated citizen today is to be able to see the world through others. eyes and to
understand the international dimensions of the problems we confront as a nation..skills
that are enhanced by international experience. The programs we put in place today to
make international experience integral to higher education will determine if our society
will have a globally literate citizenry prepared to respond to the demands of the twenty-
Accordingly, we call on the President to:
NAFSA: Association of International Educators and the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange. (December 12, 2000). “Toward an International Education Policy for the United States: A White Paper for the President-elect’s Transition Team.”
- Announce the international education policy in a major address, decision
memorandum, or message to Congress, and propose appropriate funding.
- Appoint a senior White House official who will be in charge of the policy and
responsible for meeting its targets.
- Convene a White House summit of college and university presidents, other academic
leaders, international education professionals, and NGO and business leaders to map
out the specifics of the policy.
- Assign specific roles to appropriate federal agencies.
- Create an interagency working group of these agencies, chaired by the senior White
House official, to ensure that policies and regulations affecting international
education are consistent and coherent.
- Create an advisory commission consisting of business leaders, state-level officials,
and international education professionals from institutions of higher education,
exchange programs, foundations, and appropriate professional associations to offer
advice and guidance on program implementation.”