The Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) on Wednesday launched its TechWomen2012 initiative, which will bring 42 women from eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa to the U.S. for a period of five weeks. While in the U.S., the women—who all work in the technology sectors in their home countries that include Algeria, Jordan, and Yemen—will be engaged in a mentoring program with their U.S. counterparts.
Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine expressed her wish to see more American students studying and interning in India, in a recent interview with Forbes India. The Department of State is planning to increase the number of U.S. students in India (currently 3,300) to 15,000 in five years through its Passport to India initiative.
Talking about how to achieve this ambitious goal, Sonenshine said:
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report yesterday critical of the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP), saying that the program lacks processes to identify risk and prevent fraud, and does not have proper controls to verify the legitimacy of schools that accept international students. SEVP is responsible for certifying schools to accept international students in academic and vocational programs, as well as managing the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which assists the Department of Homeland Security in tracking and monitoring certified schools and international students.
In a video message recorded on the occasion of the third EducationUSA Forum, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once more underlined the importance of bringing international students to the United States for study and the critical work of the EducationUSA Advising Centers in more than 170 across the globe.
The Obama Administration’s strong rhetoric in support of international education and exchange does not always match with reality, and is described by some to be “superficial,” according to an article in yesterday’s Chronicle of Higher Education:
The Department of State issued a new guidance directive this afternoon (available here; direct to PDF here), clarifying the visa status of Chinese teachers at campus-based Confucius Institutes. Specifically, the directive states that Chinese language teachers “sponsored by university or college sponsors who are teaching at primary or secondary schools are not required to depart the United States at the end of this academic year, unless that was their intended date of departure.”
Wang Yongli, deputy chief executive of the Office of Chinese Language Council International, said he was “taken by surprise and quite shocked” by the release last week of a State Department directive that would require all Chinese-language schoolteachers affiliated with campus-based Confucius Institutes and holding J-1 visas to leave the country within weeks, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.
A State Department policy directive issued last week (and reported on yesterday by the Alliance) asserted that campus-based Confucius Institutes must be part of the sponsoring college’s foreign-language program or apply for separate accreditation. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports today that the Department of State has called that section of the directive “confusing” and said it would be “redrafted to clarify that Confucius Institutes that have partnerships with accredited colleges are in compliance with visa regulations.”
A Department of State policy directive issued last week states that any academics at campus-based Confucius Institutes who are teaching at the elementary- and secondary-school levels are violating the terms of their visas and must leave at the end of this academic year, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports. The memorandum also says that, “after a ‘preliminary review,’ the State Department has determined that the institutes must obtain American accreditation in order to continue to accept foreign scholars and professors as teachers.”
The new Interim Final Rule (IFR) for the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program, released by the Department of State on the ECA website last Friday, appears in today’s Federal Register (FR). The full FR notice can be accessed online here.