International Education Connects Us to the World: 10 Insights from the EducationUSA Forum

Posted by Evan Ryan
July 11, 2014

“International education is no longer just an exciting excursion: it is critical to career prospects and our global competitiveness…These partnerships will ensure that our universities remain the most diverse in the world, and our students are prepared to reach across borders to find solutions and foster collaboration.” -- First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, EducationUSA Forum welcome letter.

During the EducationUSA Forum held from June 23 to 25, 550 higher education professionals from across the United States met with EducationUSA international education professionals from around the world on how to better internationalize U.S. campuses, through attracting more international students to U.S. campuses and encouraging U.S. students to study abroad.  Here are the top 10 points discussed throughout the insightful three-day Forum:

1) Education Diplomacy has a vital role to play in our foreign policy.  Higher education is one of the United States' strategic assets and the EducationUSA advising network is the U.S. Department of State's vehicle for directly encouraging international students to study in the United States.  The almost 820,000 international students who studied in the United States last year contributed $24.7 billion to the U.S. economy. 

2) There is tremendous room for growth in welcoming more international students to our campuses.  While a record number of students studied in the United States in 2012/2013, this represents only 4 percent of total U.S. higher education enrollment.

3) There are many opportunities to diversify countries from which to recruit students to the United States.  Taking an “off the beaten path” approach to international recruitment uncovers many opportunities for student recruitment.  U.S. colleges and universities are encouraged to look beyond the top 10 sending countries as more and more international students from diverse countries are interested in U.S. higher education.

4) International education is for everyone.  Effective international student recruitment and retention must take into account the needs of all students, including those with disabilities and LGBT students, to build an inclusive campus community.

5) Over 70 percent of international students are concentrated at only 200 U.S. institutions.  The EducationUSA network seeks to assist more of the 4,500 accredited U.S. institutions with their efforts to internationalize their campuses.  This year’s EducationUSA Forum included 550 participants from 355 U.S. colleges and universities. 

6) Virtual resources expand student recruitment efforts and increase knowledge.  Since January 2014, the State Department’s MOOC Camp initiative has reached more than 2,000 students with facilitated discussion groups around Massive Open Online Courses on applying to U.S. universities, English language, STEM, and entrepreneurship.  MOOC Camps bolster student interest and preparedness to study in the United States.  EducationUSA also continues to expand the recruitment reach of U.S. institutions through an increased number of virtual college fairs. 

7) Educational exchange is a White House priority.  President Obama launched initiatives, including 100,000 Strong in the Americas, 100,000 Strong in China, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), and the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), with the understanding that international education helps lay the foundation for a more prosperous, competitive, and secure United States by fostering connections between Americans and citizens of other countries, nurturing partnerships, and expanding knowledge exchange, better preparing us to tackle global challenges with other nations. 

8) Building university-to-university linkages and partnerships strengthens campus internationalization.  University linkages and partnerships facilitate greater student mobility.  Linkages provide opportunities for joint faculty research and exchange and promote collaboration to address common challenges. 

9) Many foreign governments are investing in sending their students abroad.  The Department of State engages in strategic dialogues with many partner nations to help increase international education opportunities for their citizens.  EducationUSA centers throughout the world provide the critical support and guidance needed so that students can access U.S. higher education. 

10) Study in the United States is possible!  The EducationUSA network of more than 400 advising centers in 170 countries assists millions of prospective students each year with accurate, comprehensive and current information on U.S. study opportunities.  Get inspired and informed about study in the United States here.

About the Author: Evan Ryan serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. Follow the Assistant Secretary on Twitter @ECA_AS.



Ibrahima D.
July 13, 2014
I am an advocate of University -to-university linkages that bring more mobility for students and researchers while open to all other options. I have been now develoving a Global Understanding that connects students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University and Cheikh Anta Diop University in Senegal that is on going since two years now. More could be done to develop quality education that serves through exchange. Thank you for supporting all the initiatives above.


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