This is according to the country’s secretary of state Antony Blinken, whose speech was broadcast at the NAFSA conference in Washington DC this week.
Blinken explained that international education is an important part of the US diplomacy and national security strategy. Supporting study abroad programs is a priority for the Biden administration, he detailed.
“At the State Department, we are working to expand international education. After the acute phase of the Covid-19 pandemic ended, more and more international students began applying to study in the US again,” he said.
“We took steps to streamline our visa process and make it easier for students to apply.”
Consular teams were asked to prioritise student visas and it expanded opportunities for some students to apply for visas without interviews. It has also recently announced that applicants will be able to file for visas one year in advance, rather than the previous 120-day limit.
“Last year we issued over 580,000 student visas, the highest number in five years,” Blinken noted.
The Department is also working with other governments to create opportunities for research and study abroad, he continued.
“Last year we issued over 580,000 student visas, the highest number in five years”
“We are working with higher education institutions and NAFSA to share information with students about international opportunities and to host exchanges like the Fulbright program.”
It is also “working hard” to make international education inclusive and accessible, he said.
With the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities the Department is seeking to recruit more students and faculty from Hispanic-serving institutions, and it has also eliminated the minimum length of the Gilman scholarship program.
Experts, such as Hans de Wit and Philip G Altbach and CANIE, have called for short-term study abroad programs to be “largely eliminated” due to the emissions they are associated with or to be replaced with virtual, local or regional alternatives.
However, research has indicated that short-term programs can help to break down participation barriers and encourage further international engagement.
The elimination of the Gilman program minimum length means “more students, including those with family or work obligations, can join shorter but impactful study abroad opportunities”, Blinken said.
“We are always looking for opportunities to do more,” he added.