Higher Education Organizations Call for Federal Support of International Students
November 15, 2021

​ACE focusing on array of globalization initiatives and public policy actions as International Education Week kicks off

ACE joined seven other organizations in issuing a statement today urging the federal government to engage in efforts, in coordination with the higher education community, to return international student enrollment to pre-pandemic numbers and support policies that encourage international students and exchanges.

The statement, released at the beginning of International Education week, calls for the federal government to engage with the higher education community, as well as develop and implement a national strategy to increase the number of international students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities to the 2015 high-water mark of more than 1 million.

“The higher education community is deeply committed to, and places a high priority on, increasing the overall access, diversity, and success of the students it serves,” the organizations state. “International students play an important role in these efforts by enriching the learning environment for all students and bringing a global perspective that adds to the diversity of the campus and community.”

Also today, as Inside Higher Ed reported, the Institute of International Education (IIE) released its Fall 2021 Enrollment Snapshot survey of 860 colleges and universities showing that the number of total international students (undergraduate, graduate, and non-degree students) at U.S. universities increased by 4 percent. That increase, Inside Higher Ed noted, follows a 46 percent drop in new international students, and a 15 percent decrease in total international students, for academic year 2020-21, according to IIE’s Open Doors 2021 Report on International Educational Exchange, also out today.

While the Snapshot data points to promising signs of a post-COVID recovery, action still is needed at both the federal and institutional levels to attract more students and scholars from across the globe. ACE’s report, “Toward Greater Inclusion and Success: A New Compact for International Students,” emphasizes the importance of college and university practices in welcoming, supporting, and integrating international students as part of an overall strategy.

The higher education organizations note in their statement that, “It is essential that the federal government support higher education’s efforts to develop a national strategy to increase the number of international students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities.”

Higher Education Community Advocacy Efforts

ACE and other higher education associations continue to advocate on a number of fronts pertaining to international students, including in the recent months engaging on issues impacting international students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following the Biden administration announcement that the U.S. travel policy would change to allow foreign visitors who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the country beginning Nov. 8, ACE and other associations called on the administration to make the new policy flexible enough to accommodate students and scholars from countries where the vaccine is not widely available. In a subsequent proclamation, the Biden administration announced that non-immigrant visa holders, such as students and scholars, traveling from countries with a vaccination rate of less than 10 percent, would be allowed to enter the U.S. and could demonstrate that they would be vaccinated within 60 days.

In addition, the State Department announced last month that it has authorized consular officers through the end of 2021 to expand the categories of F, M, and “academic J visa applicants” (students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, or specialists), whose applications can be adjudicated without an in-person interview. We appreciate the recognition that it is in our national interest to be the destination of choice for talented international students and scholars, as we requested in a letter in March.

ACE and several other organizations recently put together a resource kit to help colleges and universities ensure necessary structures and support networks are in place to welcome Afghan students and scholars. Earlier this year, ACE and other associations asked congressional leaders for support and legislation to assist those students and scholars, and have called on the State Department to allow for flexibilities applying for F-1 and J-1 visas from third countries to study and take offers of employment at U.S. institutions of higher education.

ACE Internationalization Initiatives

A number of ACE initiatives assist U.S. colleges and universities in expanding their capacity to internationalize their campuses.

Registration is now open for the ACE-AIEA Internationalization Collaborative, which will take place virtually on Feb. 23, 2022, although participants attending the AIEA conference in New Orleans will have the opportunity to convene in person for the event. It will focus on mobilizing synergies between internationalization and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Applications will open in early 2022 for the ACE Internationalization Laboratory, a program that increases agility, innovation, and resilience as institutions face global challenges.

ACE is collaborating on a new virtual exchange (VE) collaborative online international learning (COIL) initiative with the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission. The Global Challenges Teaching Award is an opportunity for U.S. and U.K. university teaching faculty to introduce VE/COIL into an existing undergraduate program. It is open to U.K. and U.S. teaching faculty who teach a class that speaks directly to one of three pressing global challenges: pandemics, climate change, and racial justice. The deadline for applying for the up to six-month grant is Dec. 13, and the recipients will be announced by late February. Click here for more information and to apply.

Informing ACE’s work will be the Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses survey, the only comprehensive source of data and analysis on internationalization in U.S. higher education. The survey assesses the current state of internationalization at American colleges and universities, analyzes progress and trends over time, and identifies future priorities. All data must be collected by the end of 2021. Fill out this form to see if your institution has participated yet. Your valuable insights could help inform advocacy and programming at ACE. ​