Federal Panel Urges Study-Abroad Bill and Recruiting Strategy for Foreign Students

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Fri Jan 25 16:09:44 UTC 2008

Federal Panel Urges Study-Abroad Bill and Recruiting Strategy for Foreign

A new report by an advisory panel convened by the U.S. Departments of
State and Homeland Security backs arguments that many academics have been
making for years: The federal government must improve how it treats
international visitors and must encourage more American students to study

The report, Secure Borders and Open Doors: Preserving Our Welcome to the
World in an Age of Terrorism, was written by a committee of academic and
industry representatives. Appointed in late 2006, it was charged with
advising the two departments on how to maintain secure borders while
ensuring that the country remains open to international visitors.

A number of the committee's recommendations concern higher education. The
report argues that the United States needs a national policy for
attracting international students and should place a White House official
in charge of coordinating implementation of the policy.
International-education groups have been lobbying for those goals for
several years now. Americas share of the international-student market is
shrinking, the report notes, because our competitors have and America
lacks a proactive national strategy that enables us to mobilize all the
tools and assets at our disposal, and that enables the federal bureaucracy
to work together in a coherent fashion, to attract international students.

The report also urges the passage of the Paul Simon Study Abroad
Foundation Act, which aims to send one million students abroad  about five
times as many as now study abroad. The House passed a version of the bill
several months ago, but the Senate has yet to act on its version.

Among other things, the report also recommends that:

The State Department improve visa processing so that people wait no longer
than 30 days for a visa interview.

The State Department add new positions for consular officers in countries
with high demand for visas.

Border and immigration officials receive training in cross-cultural
sensitivity from universities and other organizations that offer such

Beth McMurtrie



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