[lg policy] US: Language and International-Studies Programs Face 'Devastating' Cuts Under Budget Deal

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at GMAIL.COM
Thu Apr 14 15:34:04 UTC 2011

Language and International-Studies Programs Face 'Devastating' Cuts
Under Budget Deal
By Ian Wilhelm


The federal budget plan expected to be approved by Congress this week
would make sharp cuts in foreign-language and international academic
programs, with some university officials saying they could result in
staff layoffs.

International-education advocates are raising objections to reductions
in programs authorized under two federal laws, Title VI of the Higher
Education Act and the Fulbright-Hays Act. The budget deal, which would
finance federal agencies until the end of September, would slash funds
for these Department of Education programs by 40 percent, or
$50-million, reducing their allocation to $76-million.

"A cut of that magnitude to such small programs really has a huge
impact," says Miriam A. Kazanjian, a consultant with the Coalition for
International Education. "It would be devastating."

In particular, she says the teaching of "critical" foreign languages,
like Arabic and Farsi, and studies of various regions of the world
would suffer, hurting America's national security and competitiveness
in the global economy.

Title VI and Fulbright-Hays provide grants for a range of programs.
Fulbright-Hays primarily pays for doctoral students to conduct
research overseas, while Title VI supports a variety of academic
centers at American universities. They include Language Resource
Centers, National Resource Centers, and Centers for International
Business Education and Research. There are more than 150 of these
centers at universities across the country. Under the budget plan, "a
number of these programs would have to be cut back," says William I.
Brustein, the university's vice provost of global strategies and
international affairs. "They would be bare bones and without legs."

He says the drop in government support could mean layoffs among the 30
or so administrative staff members who operate the centers. (Faculty
members would not be affected because their salaries are not
supplemented by federal dollars.) Ohio State was expecting to receive
$3-million for these programs in the current fiscal year, says Mr.
Brustein. He is contacting members of Congress in hopes that the cuts
can be reversed, though it's unlikely lawmakers will make changes in
the plan at this date.

Mark Tessler, vice provost for international affairs at the University
of Michigan, says the university, which operates seven Title VI
centers, may need to cut courses in Thai, Bengali, Indonesian, and
other less-commonly taught languages. While removing these languages
from the curriculum would affect a small number of students, "there
needs to be a place for these languages to be taught in America," he

Academic fellowships for master's and doctoral students supported
under Title VI for language and international studies could also be
trimmed, he says. Sixty to 70 students could be affected, he says.
For now, Mr. Tessler says the university will wait to see what the
Obama administration proposes and Congress allocates for these
programs for the next fiscal year, which begins October 1, before
making any decisions.

Government spending for other international-education programs would
also be trimmed under the budget compromise, though not to the extent
of the Title VI and Fulbright-Hays programs. Exchange programs that
send American students and professors overseas and bring international
scholars to the United States would be reduced by 5.5 percent, and the
Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, which has several
international components, would be cut by $140-million.

In the past, conservative Republicans have questioned the value of
such programs and whether some Middle East academic centers are biased
against American foreign policy.  However, Ms. Kazanjian says she was
surprised that the Title VI and Fulbright-Hays programs were the focus
for such deep cuts. The programs, some of which began 50 years ago to
counter research gains made by the Soviet Union, received increases in
federal dollars after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when
the government wanted more graduates with fluency in Afghan languages
like Pashto.

The budget deal "rolls these programs back to 2001 levels," she says.



 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com


This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format: https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list