U.S. House Votes to Help Colleges Expand Study-Abroad Efforts

Don Osborn dzo at bisharat.net
Wed Jun 6 15:35:58 UTC 2007

Thanks Hal for forwarding this. 


Is there any word on  S.451 National Foreign Language Coordination Act of
2007 and H.R.747 National Foreign Language Coordination Act ? 



From: owner-lgpolicy-list at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
[mailto:owner-lgpolicy-list at ccat.sas.upenn.edu] On Behalf Of Harold
Sent: Wednesday, June 06, 2007 10:46 AM
To: lp
Subject: U.S. House Votes to Help Colleges Expand Study-Abroad Efforts




Wednesday, June 6, 2007


U.S. House Votes to Help Colleges Expand Study-Abroad Efforts

By BETH MCMURTRIE and BURTON <mailto:beth.mcmurtrie at chronicle.com>  BOLLAG


The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday that would
greatly increase the number of American students studying abroad. The bill
has bipartisan support in Congress, and a sponsor of the Senate version said
he would work to secure its passage in that chamber. In another development
on Tuesday, the State Department proposed a new rule regarding the
eligibility of foreign students to work as interns in the United States.
That rule could help American colleges form student exchanges with
institutions overseas. 

The legislation approved by the House, known as the Senator Paul Simon Study
Abroad Foundation Act (HR 1469
<http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:h.r.01469:> ), would create a
foundation whose goal would be to send one million American students abroad
each year within the next 10 years. Only 206,000 students studied abroad
during the 2004 academic year, the latest for which figures are available.
That number represents about 1 percent of all university students. The bill
authorizes Congress to appropriate $80-million annually for the foundation,
which would distribute the money largely in the form of grants to students
through universities and other study-abroad providers. 

One of the bill's key goals is to bring more diversity to study abroad, both
in terms of where students travel and who goes overseas. For example, it
seeks to raise the number of community-college, low-income and minority
students who study abroad, as well as increase the number of students
studying in developing countries. Victor C. Johnson, associate executive
director for public policy at Nafsa: Association of International Educators,
which has strongly backed the creation of such a foundation, said the bill
was particularly significant in that it was designed to promote changes in
higher education that would encourage more participation in study abroad. 

"One of the things so ingenious about the bill is in order to access the
funds, the schools are going to have to agree to take action to remove the
barriers they pose to study abroad," he said, noting as an example that
students are often unwilling to go overseas if it means they are unable to
meet their course requirements at home. "The lack of encouragement by
professors, the lack of leadership by universities, the failure of
universities to contain the costs of these programs -- these things prevent
students from going abroad," Mr. Johnson said. Forcing study-abroad programs
to be more student-friendly, he said, also enables the program to be highly
cost effective. 

"When you figure the bill authorizes $80-million a year to send one million
students abroad a year, that's $80 a student. That's a dinner out in
Washington, D.C.," Mr. Johnson said. "The reason that can happen is that by
leveraging reforms at the university level, the bill is going to achieve
more study abroad." 

Bipartisan Support 

The bill, which passed by voice vote, was introduced by Rep. Tom Lantos,
Democrat of California, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican of Florida.
A Senate version of the bill ( S 991
<http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:s.00991:> ), co-sponsored by
Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, and Sen. Norm Coleman,
Republican of Minnesota, has been referred to the Committee on Foreign
Relations for a vote. In a written statement, Senator Durbin called the
House's approval of the bill "very encouraging" and said that an
international study-abroad program would "help provide the next generation
of Americans a deeper understanding of the cultures and histories of other
nations." He added that he would "work to see that this legislation is
considered in the Senate." A staff member in his office said that "hopefully
there will be action on the bill within the next couple of weeks." 

In lobbying for the introduction and passage of the bills, Mr. Johnson, of
Nafsa, said he and others didn't have to do much to convince members of
Congress of the value of study abroad. The House bill, for example, speaks
of its importance to national security, noting that the 9/11 Public
Discourse Project, a follow-up to the report by the National Commission on
Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, gave the U.S. government a grade
of D for its efforts to increase support for scholarship and exchange
programs, one of the commission's recommendations. "Investing in a national
study-abroad program would help turn a grade of D into an A by equipping
United States students to communicate United States values and way of life
through the unique dialogue that takes place among citizens from around the
world when individuals study abroad," the bill states. 

The House and Senate bills have their roots in a panel on study abroad
convened by Nafsa that in 2003 advocated the creation of a "Lincoln
Fellowship" program that would increase to 500,000 the number of American
college students going overseas. Former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, who died in
December of that year, was a co-chairman of the group. Two years later, a
bipartisan government-appointed panel known as the Lincoln Commission asked
Congress to create a fellowship program to increase the number of American
undergraduates studying abroad to one million a year. A similar bill was
introduced in the Senate last year but never came to a vote. 

Proposed New Rule 

The new rule proposed by the State Department would allow American
institutions to sponsor foreign students to work as interns in the United
States for up to 12 months. Mr. Johnson said colleges would welcome the
rule, in part because it would help them develop exchange programs with
foreign institutions. Those institutions, in turn, would accept American
students for internships overseas. The proposal, published on Tuesday in the
v/2007/E7-10606.htm> Federal Register, would amend the Exchange Visitor
Program and apparently would apply to foreign students at both the
undergraduate and graduate levels. The students would typically be placed in
jobs in their field of study. 

Under existing regulations, it is difficult for American colleges to sponsor
foreign students to be placed in companies or organizations as interns
because there is no provision for that purpose. American institutions that
want to sponsor foreign students for an internship in the United States have
had to "shoehorn them into other categories," said Mr. Johnson. The State
Department will accept public comments on the proposed regulation until
August 6. 

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