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Remaining top study destination is US foreign policy “priority”

EducationUSA’s Forum, the premier annual event for higher education for the US Department of State, was held last week in Washington, D.C.

Photo: The PIE News

The five-prong plan is intended to connect US institutions with foreign groups interested in US education

Lee Satterfield, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, welcomed the delegates to the conference with opening remarks.

“What you are doing to promote study in the United States, for the best and the brightest to come together to solve the world’s problems, is critically important,” she said.

“And it is a foreign policy priority for president Biden and secretary Blinken… for the US to remain the world’s top study destination for international students.”

Paying homage to this year’s conference theme, Connecting You to the World, Satterfield proffered, “We do this work because we know that the experience of studying in the US shapes both the lives of individuals and the future of our interconnected world.”

Satterfield touted some of the benefits of having international students living and studying in their host communities in the US, from bringing their “unique cultures and perspectives” to contributing over $31 billion to the US economy and supporting over 300,000 jobs in the US last year.

In addition to asserting the importance of international education, Satterfield also discussed priorities for the US Department of State, highlighting last year’s joint statement of ‘principles in support of international education’.

“The statement is the first high-level framework of the US government to support international education in two decades,” she reminded.

The joint statement was also the topic of a standing-room-only panel discussion at the Forum. Anthony Koliha, director of the Office of Global Education Programs at ECA, was joined by Rafael Nevárez of the Department of Education, Marissa Tinsley from the Department of Homeland Security, and Gabriela Zelaya of the Department of Commerce, to lead a conversation about the progress made on the goals in the Joint Statement and opportunities for the future.

Zelaya said there is ongoing inter-agency collaboration on country-specific strategies for market entry and expansion. She also highlighted the working group’s export strategy that “provides a framework to collectively support the international education sector in a strategic way”.

Further, Zelaya offered examples of what stakeholders can expect to see when the initiative is officially rolled out this fall.

She said the five-prong plan is intended to connect US institutions with foreign groups interested in US education, promote the US as a premiere study destination through marketing campaigns, highlight the importance of international education as a US export system, align resources to promote US education in the global market, and level the playing field in the export market.

Koliha affirmed that the statement supports a commitment to a more strategic coordination between agencies. He also emphasised that institutions are an essential component in the process, noting the excitement at the departments to enhance outreach and engagement with stakeholders.

“They are committed and knowledgeable… and they ooze energy and enthusiasm”

Conference organisers offered myriad opportunities for stakeholder engagement throughout the forum, from thought-provoking sessions, to a lively reception, to the global showcase, at which regional educational advising coordinators and country advisors, highlighted the work they are doing in countries across the globe to promote studying in the states.

Executive director of EnglishUSA, Cheryl Delk-Le Good, shared her thoughts about the regional coordinators and advisors with The PIE News. “They are committed and knowledgeable… and they ooze energy and enthusiasm.”

In reflecting upon the conference as a whole, Delk-Le Good noted, “Being here in person and laughing and exchanging ideas; there’s a real value and benefit to in-person relationship building.”

See a gallery from the event here.

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