Speaking at the sixth annual EducationUSA Forum in Washington D.C., Ryan told the delegation of university representatives and regional educational experts that student mobility is “essential to the US foreign policy agenda”.
“Your work contributes directly to the creation of a safer, more secure, and more prosperous world for us all,” she said.
“True global engagement happens in the classrooms, libraries, dormitories, and laboratories on your campuses”
“Utilising international educational opportunities to promote engagement between young people as we prepare them for the workforce is exactly what we mean when we talk about ‘education diplomacy’ at the State Department.”
Ryan went on to say that cross- country collaboration is imperative to tackle global issues like climate change, food security, energy resources, and the rise of violent extremism.
“Campus communities play an essential role in preparing students to be engaged citizens and critical thinkers,” she said adding, “true global engagement happens in the classrooms, libraries, dormitories, and laboratories on your campuses.”
“You and your faculty, staff, and administrators are helping to build the ties between individual students today that ultimately translate into stronger relations between entire nations tomorrow,” she continued.
Last year the inbound number of foreign students in the US reached a record high of 880,000 , up 8% on 2013.
But Ryan underlined that foreign students represent only 4% of total higher education enrolments in the country.
“Our educational system attracts more international students than any other higher education system in the world, but we can and we will do more,” she said.
Ryan also mentioned the State Department’s Study Abroad office, announced earlier this year, that will manage state funded scholarship programmes and advocate for more outbound mobility.
“Our educational system attracts more international students than any other higher education system in the world, but we can and we will do more”
“While we’ve made some progress in the last couple of years in increasing the number of US outbound students, only 1.5% of the almost 20 million American students enrolled in higher education programmes studied abroad in the last academic year,” she said.
“There is still plenty of room for growth in outbound student mobility and we are redoubling our commitment to make it happen.”
International higher education is one of the US’s top ten service sector exports contributing more than $27bn to the national economy.
The forum is the largest gathering of government-backed EducationUSA representatives who are stationed 170 countries worldwide to provide international students with information about study opportunities in the US.
The department has also paired with MOOC provider Coursera to offer students “test drives” of US college classrooms and launched virtual recruitment fairs.
This year more than 575 university representatives and 60 Education US regional experts attended the three day event.