Back in May, during the annual NAFSA conference, Temple University’s then-director of international and #YAWH spokesperson, Jessica Sandberg revealed that nine US HEIs (including Temple) had signed up to provide an annual renewable scholarship for international students enrolling on the Fall 2019 semester.
“This reinforces the message of inclusion and provides something stronger than a video”
But it has now been disclosed that a further 48 universities and colleges from across the United States have joined the initiative to attract international students, with what Sandberg had previously described as a “collaborative” exercise aimed at “anxious” students following the election of president Trump.
The award comes after a social media campaign featuring international and domestic students on US campuses declaring that international students are “welcome here!” was shared and enjoyed across the sector.
The campaign was started by Study Group, but took off after university leaders, including Temple’s Sandberg, made a concerted effort and formalised the campaign with a website and the now-famous #YouAreWelcomeHere tag.
At least 350 colleges and universities, 60 international education companies and 20 high schools are now a part of the sector-wide message.
The scholarship program is an arm of the campaign, but there is no central fund. Instead, each institution must put up the money from existing internal sources.
The arrangement states that at least 50% of two successful applicants’ tuition must be covered by the fund, which means the dollar amount will fluctuate from institution to institution.
The expansion was prompted by the success of the first part of the campaign, the videos, but as Salma Benhaida, international recruitment director at Kent State University in Ohio explained, something international students could actually make use of was needed.
“Kent State University [is] happy to… join the second phase which reinforces the message of diversity and inclusion and provides something stronger and more tangible than a simple you are welcome here message or video,” she told The PIE News.
“We would also like to help provide access to US higher education and help develop future leaders and citizens who value the importance of civic engagement and intercultural understanding,” Benhaida added.
“The #YouAreWelcomeHere Scholarship meets an essential challenge”
She also noted that although Kent State is offering the minimum fund for partnership in the campaign, they have not ruled out successful candidates from consideration for additional university-provided scholarships.
Along with the growth, the administrative structure has taken a more nation-wide approach from mid-2018, partly due to the departure of Sandberg from Temple, explained Martyn J. Miller, Temple’sassistant vice president for international programs.
“We all agreed that leadership of the campaign needed a more national approach. To that end, we have formed an advisory board of members of the campaign and scholarship, and the board’s role will be to move the campaign forward,” he said.
“Temple, of course, will remain an integral part of the campaign, but we feel strongly that we are but one voice in a campaign which requires the voices of many,” Miller added.
The advisory board Miller mentions will have members from across the US international education sector, with large state colleges and smaller, independent schools all included. The board, like the institutions offering the scholarships, will represent a fair geographic spread of international education experiences in the US.
The board will focus on “board expects to address future messaging and strategy, additional expansion of the scholarship program, and more,” according to a spokesperson. A full list of members can now be found below.
Commenting on the launch of the expansion, president of IIE Allan Goodman said the effort is “essential” in supporting international and refugee students who might otherwise not have been able to study internationally.
“The #YouAreWelcomeHere Scholarship meets an essential challenge in the effort to support international and refugee students, foster intercultural understanding and develop future leaders,” he said.
“Refugee students flee conflict zones and cross intercultural divides to continue their higher education. As a higher education community, it is our responsibility to support such great efforts and welcome refugees to safe-haven universities across the United States,” Goodman added.
Prospective scholars must submit an application for YAWH to the participating college where they have already applied to study. Students must have completed high school (or equivalent) outside of the US, and not hold US citizenship or permanent residency. The deadline for the first cohort is December 15 2018, to begin in the first semester of the 2019 academic year.
The YAWH Board currently consists of:
Shannon Paul – Adelphi University
Matt Beatty – Concordia College (Moorehead, MN)
Jessica B Sandberg – Duke Kunshan University
Walter Kraft – Eastern Michigan University
Alex Smith – Michigan State University
George Kacenga – Purdue University Northwest
Dana Brolley – Seattle University
Jackie McCafferty – Temple University
Leah Hetzell – Temple University
David L. Di Maria – University of Maryland Baltimore County
Jaclyn Assarian – Wayne State University
Michelle Kowalsky – Western New England University
Jared Butto (Ex officio) – EducationUSA
Sallie Ly (Ex officio) – NAFSA
Katherine Miller (Ex officio) – IIE
Martyn J. Miller – Temple University
Tisha Grande – Hollins University