McHale underlines need for international education and exchanges at EducationUSA Forum

In her remarks at the EducationUSA Forum in Washington, DC, yesterday, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale stressed the importance of international education and exchanges for America's competitiveness in the world and described the promotion of study in the United States as "a priority at the highest levels of our government."

Keeping "the United States the premier destination for foreign students studying abroad…is an imperative for our nation," McHale said, noting that expanding people-to-people connections "is the core of our strategy for engaging with foreign publics, because providing opportunities for education and exchange to young people creates life-long ties that bolster our long-term security and prosperity."

McHale specifically pointed to the educational and economic benefits of international education and exchanges as well as the long-term friendships they can help to establish and maintain between nations:

"When students study in the United States, they return to their homes with a greater understanding of the United States and our people. And very often, they return to become government officials or business leaders in their home countries. This helps solidify the relationship between our nations and pays dividends of friendship and partnership for decades."

"From an educational perspective, we want to enhance the competitiveness of the U.S. education system. Building ties with international students helps Americans gain international expertise that is critical to success in the 21st century global economy."

"From an economic perspective, bringing foreign students to study in our country is just plain good business. The economic benefits to the U.S. economy from tuition, housing, and other expenses total nearly $20 billion each year and we can't afford to lose out on that opportunity."

The Under Secretary further noted that the U.S. has lost some of its market share in international study because other nations understand its importance just as well and have entered "the playing field." Because it "cannot just sit back and wait for the students to come to us," the U.S. has grown EducationUSA over the past years and is using new media tools such as webinars, social networking platforms, and mobile advising to educate millions of young people worldwide about the U.S. and encourage them to think about studying abroad in America.