The campaign comes after Open Doors data revealed that there were 914,095 international students and OPT participants in the US during the 2020/21 academic year, down from 1.08 million in 2016/17.
“It is essential that the federal government support higher education’s efforts to develop a national strategy to increase the number of international students enrolled at US colleges and universities, ensuring that the nation returns to its pre-pandemic, high water mark level set in 2015 of more than 1 million international students,” the group of organisations said in a joint statement.
Signees included the American Association of Community Colleges, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, American Council on Education, Association of American Universities, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Institute of International Education, NAFSA and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.
The organisations made the lobbying effort as the Department of State and Education celebrated their annual International Education Week.
Following the joint statement of the commitment from the departments earlier this year, the higher education community “looks forward to engaging closely with the federal government to enact policies and take coordinated action to support greater international student enrolment”, the organisations said.
“International Education Week celebrates the extraordinary contributions international students and scholars make to college and university campuses across the country,” they added.
The statement from the education stakeholders also reminded of the benefits international students bring to the US, including enriching the learning environment, bringing a global perspective to diversify campuses and communities.
“International students not only add to the diversity of our institutions, but they also contribute to the American economy by supporting jobs and businesses and by fuelling innovation,” they added.
“International students can help support a lasting recovery”
“As the US recovers from the pandemic-induced economic downturn, international students can help support a lasting recovery.”
NAFSA analysis shows that the US has missed out on $12.1 billion over two years as a result of declines in international student numbers.
“We urge the Biden administration to advance its commitment to international education by adopting a comprehensive national strategy that would help restore and diversify international student enrolment on US campuses,” Esther D. Brimmer, NAFSA executive director and CEO, said.
“We appreciate the Biden administration’s efforts to date that support international students and offer flexibility during the Covid-19 pandemic,” the eight associations continued.
“The higher education community and country at large must continue to make clear that international students are an essential part of our communities and continue to be welcomed to the United States.”