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NAFSA Advocacy Day focused on “a welcoming US”

NAFSA’s Advocacy Day in March gave international educators in the US the opportunity to meet with elected officials from the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as their staff, to discuss the importance for the industry of the US appearing globally engaged and welcoming.

NAFSA vice president for public policy, Bonnie Bissonette, addresses more than 220 international education professionals. Photo: NAFSA

In 2017, GMAC said a 'Trump effect' hit US international applications

Jill Welch, Deputy Executive Director for Public Policy at NAFSA: Association of International Educators, said professionals from well over half of all states attended.

“They… urged Congress to speak out to remind [international students] they are welcome here”

“More than 220 advocates came to Washington, D.C., from 38 states and the nation’s capital to make the case for a more welcoming and globally engaged United States,” she said.

“Inspired to be part of helping to strengthen our democracy and to create a more perfect union, advocates focused on 2 key issues.

“First, they discussed with congressional representatives how important international students and scholars are to our campuses and communities and urged Congress to speak out to remind them they are welcome here,” Welch continued.

Welch added that educators reiterated the value of international students to the US economy and its innovation agenda.

“Secondly, to ensure globally prepared U.S. students, advocates asked Congress to pass the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act.”

One attendee, IDP’s Basil Jackson, wrote on LinkedIn that the event not only gave the opportunity to present data and industry reports to lawmakers, but education professionals benefitted from NAFSA training on how best to affect change in their communications.

“In the months following, I hope to follow up with those I met on the Hill to ensure change for not only international education, but for all the international students who wish to study here in the United States,” Jackson wrote.

The act would incentivise colleges and universities to integrate study abroad into education programs and aim to increase and diversify the outbound student cohort to “more closely represent the demographics of the undergraduate population”.

When Donald Trump was first elected to the White House in 2016, educators in the US and overseas reacted with concern that the victory would damage the US’s reputation.

In 2017, GMAC said a ‘Trump effect’ hit US international applications, and countries including Australia looked to capitalise on the anti-immigration rhetoric from the US president.

Earlier in 2018, the efforts of study consortia across the US to petition the Department of Commerce reached Washington DC. There are fears education could be removed from the US Commercial Service’s mandate.

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