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US DOS promotes community colleges

The US Department of State has spoken out in support of promoting community colleges’ education offer and encouraging colleges and universities to form articulation agreements in an effort to keep the country competitive in the global international student recruitment race.

Casagrande presenting at NAFSA. Photo: The PIE News

The challenge for community colleges is that their offer is not well known or understood abroad

The topic was discussed in a seminar during the NAFSA conference in May, titled US competitiveness in international education: an economic and diplomatic dialogue.

“”Universities win too because they will get the students two years down the line”

Deputy assistant secretary of State for Academic Programs at the department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Caroline Casagrande spoke in support of the 2+2 model, which allows students to start off their education in a community college and proceed to a university.

She pointed out that such agreements can increase the US attractiveness abroad by offering a less expensive and more varied educational experience for international students.

Cost was discussed as one of the factors negatively impacting the attractiveness of the US.

One of the slides from the presentation at NASFA.

“We are working to make more international students aware of the 2+2 model,” a spokesperson of the DOS told The PIE.

“We want to spread the word about how students can earn a degree that is less expensive, and that they may be able to study in more than one geographic area of the US.

“We are also encouraging both community colleges and four-year universities with articulation agreements to join efforts and market themselves as a package through participation at Department of State organised EducationUSA fairs around the world,” they added.

In July, the DOS is holding an EducationUSA Interactive webinar for international students focused on community colleges.

Commenting on the Department’s statement in support of community colleges, the CEO of the Centre for Global Advancement of Community Colleges Zepur Solakian told The PIE that the key is in the collaboration of all post-secondary education stakeholders.

“If the higher education community… work together to empower students to start at community colleges, everyone wins,” she said.

“Universities win too because they will get the students two years down the line. No one loses in this equation.”

The main challenge for community colleges is that their offer is often not well known or understood abroad, she added; agreements such as the one CGACC concluded with CHED during NAFSA could be crucial to remedy the situation.

“Because of the community college’s affordability, more Filipino students could access US higher education,” she explained.

“But they don’t know that through community colleges they can go to the best universities, and thus they are not even looking at studying in the US because the cost to go directly to university is too high for them.”

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