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US Department of State endorses education agencies

The US Department of State has officially endorsed the usage of education agents, for the first time, by attending the AIRC conference and speaking in collaborative tones at a plenary alongside counterparts from the US Department of Commerce.

Casagrande urged "We are committed to working with all our counterparts in the US higher education community". Photo: The PIE News

"It has never been more important for the sector to be focused on the bigger picture of working together"

This is an historic and significant move, given the EducationUSA network managed by the State Dept had previously not maintained business relations with agents, unlike the Department of Commerce.

It is also a coup for AIRC, the membership organisation that vets and approves education agency members, who can then connect with its US institutional members.

“It has never been more important for the sector itself, both private and public, non-profit and for-profit, to be focused on the bigger picture of working together to promote the United States as the destination choice for international students,” said Caroline Casagrande, deputy assistant secretary for academic programs in the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

A letter was distributed to all delegates from Casagrande’s superior, Marie Royce, who thanked “colleagues” at AIRC for their support of international education and Casagrande noted a new more open collaborative approach, with EducationUSA making its resources more widely available.

“We have opened up Education USA’s primary recruitment resources that were previously only available to US colleges and universities that registered with us on our website. They are now publicly accessible to everyone,” she said.

“We hope this will empower more actors and those who are working towards our common goals. This includes our signature publication, The USA Education Global Guide, which is a detailed summary of region and country-specific recruitment information and a compilation of resources.”

Mike Finnell, executive director at AIRC, called the State Department’s intervention “a monumental event” at this year’s 10th anniversary conference.

“After years of discussion, deputy secretary of state Casagrande and Eduction Bureau chief Alfred Boll formally recognised AIRC for its leadership and best practices in international recruitment during an emotional plenary session,” he related.

“AIRC, its staff, board and dedicated members are extremely optimistic that this announcement will help shape and grow international recruitment opportunities in the US in the years to come.”

Casagrande also referred the audience to the video message from Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, which was published for International Education Week.

Her impassioned presentation suggested a top-level realisation that a cohesive approach to working to maintain the USA’s competitive position is needed, after Open Doors data indicated a decline in new enrolments for 2017/18.

“This is an extremely encouraging development for US higher education,” commented David Di Maria, associate vice provost for international education at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

EducationUSA has 550 advisors and 456 offices around the world and is a significant asset to building interest in US international education. Indeed, as Casagrande put it, its offices “offer free guidance to international students on the full range of higher education institutions to help them navigate the education process to find the best US college or university of their choice”.

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