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US supports Mexico bid to boost bilateral exchange

North American leaders have issued a joint statement via the White House lending their support to Mexico’s international education initiative, Proyecta 100,000, after it was discussed at the annual North American Leaders Summit (NALS) in Toluca, Mexico last month. However some commentators believe the trade-boosting talks between the US, Canada and Mexico did not go far enough on immigration change.

FOBESII proposes short- and medium-term initiatives for bilateral cooperation and policy coordinationFOBESII proposes short- and medium-term initiatives for bilateral cooperation and policy coordination

One proposal is a reciprocal agreement whereby Mexican students will be eligible for In-State Tuition at some US institutions and vice versa

Mexico has embarked on an ambitious strategy to boost the number of students it sends to the USA each year to 100,000 by 2018 and is hoping that various proposals to ease student exchange can help it achieve its aims.

“The potential to develop cooperation in higher education, innovation and research to benefit citizens of both countries must be seized”

Proyecta 100,000, which also aims to increase the number of US students in Mexico to 50,000, aims to double the number of Mexican international students enrolled at US colleges to 27,000 this year, increasing the number every year thereafter.

There are currently 13,893 Mexican students studying abroad on accredited US higher education programmes, and just 4,167 US international students in Mexico, according to Institute of International Education statistics.

Mexico’s initiative was published in September 2013 by the Bilateral Forum on Higher Education Innovation and Research (FOBESII), which was set up by Mexico and US Presidents Enrique Peña Nieto and Barack Obama to propose initiatives for bilateral cooperation and policy coordination.

Via FOBESII, Mexico and the US plan a number of measures to overcome specific barriers to student mobility, including visa processing and tuition fee gaps.

One proposal is a reciprocal agreement whereby Mexican students will be eligible for In-State Tuition at some US institutions and vice versa. Another is that Mexican students can study on a J visa which can be swifter to be issued than an F-1 or M-1.

Other measures include increasing English tuition at elementary level and encouraging higher education institutions to teach some core major subjects in English within Mexico.

Proyecta 100,000 would “contribute decisively” to the US government’s ‘100,000 Strong in the Americas’ initiative, which aims to boost student mobility between the US and Latin America, the document states.

“The potential to develop cooperation in higher education, innovation and research to benefit citizens of both countries must be seized,” it adds.

After the NALS event in President Enrique Pena Nieto’s hometown, a statement was issued from the three participant countries that said, “We commit to increase the number of student exchanges from within the region in our respective higher education systems, in line with the United States’ 100,000 Strong in the Americas Initiative, Mexico’s Proyecta 100,000, and Canada’s International Education Strategy.”

No further detail however was given on specific proposals made in last year’s document.

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