Higher Education Community Offers Policy-Makers Blueprint For Foreign Study
The American Council on Education (ACE) along with 33 other higher education organizations last month proposed a blueprint for the federal government and policy-makers to enhance U.S. policy on international education.
The policy proposal, “Beyond September 11: A Comprehensive U.S. National Policy on International Education,” seeks to produce more international experts, develop knowledge to address national strategic needs and develop a globally competent citizenry and work force.
The organizations seek to build a partnership between the federal government and higher education institutions that will help America meet the human resource and information needs of government, education and businesses, while enhancing the country’s ability to solve global problems.
The events of Sept. 11, combined with the long-term decline in investment in international and foreign language training, have led the United States to a shortfall of individuals with global competence, according to the proposal.
“The United States must invest in an educational infrastructure that produces knowledge of languages and cultures. We must be able to train over time a sufficient and diverse pool of American students to meet the needs of government agencies, the private sector and education,” says Dr. David Ward, ACE president. “Creating true international capacity requires both educational reform and sustained financing.”
Americans see the need for developing more international skills and knowledge in the United States. Recent ACE surveys found that 93 percent of the American public believe knowledge about international issues is important, especially for future generations. A similar percentage thinks that greater understanding of other cultures and customs is important to our ability to compete successfully in a global economy.
In addition, more than 75 percent of Americans favor college and university requirements for international courses, foreign languages, and study or internship abroad experiences. Finally, 86 percent believe that having international students on campus enriches the learning experience of American students.
One of the major obstacles to increasing the level of global competency in the United States is the lack of funding. According to the proposal, federal programs provide critical incentives for international education programs, but they are chronically underfunded. Combined federal spending under the largest international higher education and academic exchange programs in the U.S. Departments of Education, State and Defense is roughly $280 million — less than 1 percent of federal unrestricted expenditures for higher education.
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