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NAFSA Proposes Bipartisan Legislative Agenda on International Education


NAFSA: Association of International Educators on Wednesday issued an international education agenda for the 110th Congress, setting out a detailed legislative proposal to support and enhance U.S. global leadership, security and competitiveness.  

NAFSA executive director and CEO Marlene Johnson says the new congressional leadership should support international educational programs.

“These programs serve U.S. interests in fundamental ways, including building the skills of Americans to work effectively in today’s global environment, developing closer ties with the leadership of other nations, improving our ability to compete in the global age and providing a foundation for addressing global challenges,” she says. “Now is the time for Congress to assert leadership and enact bold international education legislation.”

The “Bipartisan Legislative Agenda for the 110th Congress” sets out three initiatives and includes comprehensive legislation suggestions to restore U.S. competitiveness in the international student market.

According to the agenda, such legislation should include rules for coordinating the efforts of multiple U.S. government agencies. It also suggests establishing an International Education Council, to be led by the White House. NAFSA also wants Congress to implement student visa reforms and consider creating a special “best and brightest” visa category to attract talented international students.

The second initiative is the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Fellowship Program, which hopes to make study abroad the routine, not the exception, on U.S. college campuses. The program is based on the recommendations of the Commission on the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Fellowship Program, which was established to increase the number of Americans studying in developing countries. The NAFSA agenda says legislation must ensure study abroad is accessible to students at all higher education institutions, including two-year colleges and minority-serving institutions, regardless of their financial means.

Finally, the agenda calls for a complete overhaul of the immigration system. NAFSA says the 110th Congress should broaden requirements for visa applicants in the science, technology, engineering and math fields and provide relief from caps on the number of H-1B visas available for skilled foreign workers.

“The United States must be competitive for the best and brightest international students because, increasingly, today’s international students are tomorrow’s innovators in the U.S. economy,” the agenda says.

Diverse staff reports

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