Episode 34: Responding to Last Week's Attack on the Capitol; International Student Policy in the Biden Administration


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Aired Jan. 14, 2021​

The hosts talk about the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, both what it meant to them as residents of Washington DC and the implications for American democracy. Later they are joined by Jill Allen Murray, deputy executive director of public policy for NAFSA: Association of International Educators, to discuss the current policy climate for international students in the United States and what the higher education community would like the Biden administration to prioritize.​​​​​​

Here are some of the links and references from this week’s show:


'The Worst Day for American Democracy in My Lifetime'
Inside Higher Ed | Jan. 7, 2021

Higher Ed Reacts With Shock and Condemnation as Trump Incites Mob to Terrorize U.S. Capitol
The Chronicle of Higher Education (sub. req.) | Jan. 6, 2021

Riots at U.S. Capitol Prompt Strong Response from Higher Ed Leaders
Diverse: Issues in Higher Education | Jan. 6, 2021

A Fraught Balancing Act
Inside Higher Ed | Jan. 11, 2021

Colleges are Under Pressure to Hold Accountable Those who Sought to Overturn Election, Attended Capitol Riot
The Boston Globe (sub. req.) | Jan. 11, 2021

Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell on the Violence in DC and Attack on Our Democracy

New COVID-19 Relief Bill: An Estimate of What Individual Institutions May Receive

​Conversation with Jill Allen Murray

Open Doors Survey

Immigration Executive Actions Under the Trump Administration (NAFSA)

The Can-Do Power: America's Advantage and Biden's Chance
Foreign Affairs | Jan./Feb. 2021

Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council

Rebuilding and Restoring International Education Leadership

Sen. Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act

The Way Forward (NASFA's policy priorities for the Biden administration)​

U.S.-Japan COIL Initiative

Norway Latest Country to Partner with ACE and U.S. Institutions to Maintain Global Learning Through Virtual Exchange​​

Hosts and Guests
Jill Allen Murray
Deputy Executive Director, Public Policy, NASFA: Association of International Educators
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Jill Allen Murray - Deputy Executive Director, Public Policy, NASFA: Association of International Educators - Guest
Jill Allen Murray
Deputy Executive Director, Public Policy, NASFA: Association of International Educators

 Read this episode's transcript

Jon Fansmith: Hello, and welcome to dotEDU, the higher education policy podcast from the American Council on Education. I'm Jon Fansmith, one of your hosts, and I'm joined today by Sarah Spreitzer and Mushtaq Gunja. Hey there.

Sarah Spreitzer: Hey, Jon.

Mushtaq Gunja: Hey, Jon. Hey, Sarah.

Jon Fansmith: Well, and thanks everyone for joining me. We're going to talk with Jill Allen Murray of NAFSA about international education, unique challenges we face in that environment right now, and the outlook for the coming years in that area. But I think we would be remiss if we didn't start by talking about what happened last week. As we record this, we're just about a week removed from the January 6 incident. I don't even know what the appropriate term is.

Sarah Spreitzer: I think violence is a good word.

Jon Fansmith: Violence, mob action. And obviously I think, the three of us live in the Washington DC area, we have all spent time inside the Capitol building. I know from conversations that both of you share this deep reverence you get when you step inside that building, it really is a temple to American democracy and it's so rich with history and meaning. Every place, every corner, every room you go in there is meaningful and powerful. And to see something like what happened with those symbols being desecrated and destroyed, it resonates. It resonates, and it's been emotionally impactful for all of us. And maybe I'll just start by asking each of you your experiences, your thoughts on what happened last week.

Mushtaq Gunja: I guess I have three. I've got a million thoughts, I've got three ones that I was hoping I might be able to share with you guys. First, the more we learn about what was going on, the worse it seems to have been. This attack could have been so much worse. So we know about at least the one individual who brought a bunch of zip ties to the Capitol, and I can only assume that they were planning on trying, or at least that person was planning on trying to take some hostages. There was a noose and guillotine type thing that was set up outside of the Capitol, I don't know what that was about.

Jon Fansmith: The mob was chanting, "Hang Pence," so ...

Mushtaq Gunja: Right, and given what we know was, at least some were planning with Governor Whitmer in Michigan, this could have been really bad. Not to mention the pipe bombs and the Molotov cocktails that were found on site. This could have been really bad. And I'm really worried, because the FBI's put everybody on alert about things surrounding Inauguration Day, state capitals. The US Capitol is pretty well guarded compared to what the state capitals are like. I don't know if you've spent much time in Des Moines or Carson City, but these are not well defended fortresses. So, I'm really worried. Two, the politics of this are really unnerving to me. Republicans, including especially but not limited to President Trump, have been telling their supporters that the election was stolen. And if you believe that, it is not crazy to believe that you might take action. If you were going to believe what these people are telling you, then that's a really problematic thing. And in a world of selective info and deepfakes and altered videos on the Internet, you can find stuff on the Internet that will make you believe what you already want to believe. There's no evidence of widespread fraud. The three of us know that. I assume that Senators Hawley and Cruz and the 100-some Republicans in Congress that voted not to accept the results in Pennsylvania and Arizona know this, but they're telling their constituents something else. And that's a real, real problem because if you believe it, then you're going to take action. If the election were truly stolen, that would be a significant problem.

Jon Fansmith: In many ways this is almost the inevitable outcome of months of that rhetoric.

Mushtaq Gunja: Jon, that seems so right to me. This focus, whether or not President Trump's speech on the 6th incited this riot seems to me to be too narrow a question. It's not about the 6th.

Jon Fansmith: Right.

Mushtaq Gunja: It's about the eight weeks' worth of the "stop the steal" nonsense. It's about telling everybody that the election was stolen. And yeah, that's the last piece in the jigsaw puzzle. There's a 100-piece puzzle that the other 99 pieces were already there. And the last thing I guess I would say is, I'm really torn between this instinct to just want to move on, just get past this, we're two weeks, nine days away now from Inauguration Day, let's just go. And this really strong feeling too that there needs to be some sort of accountability. And it seems to me that if Republicans and President Trump, or at least some set of the Republican Party and President Trump don't actually step back and say, "We were wrong, the election was not stolen," that we're not really going to ever be able to move on from this. Because there will be a segment of the population that is going to not think that the election was legitimate, and we know now, maybe we should have always known, but we know now that this can play out in very violent ways. So those are the three things going on in my head. I'm sorry they weren't well organized, I have a million other thoughts running through too. But that's top of mind for me.

Sarah Spreitzer: I think the politics of it and what you were just saying, Mushtaq, I've spent time thinking about that. But on a personal level I also was very scared for my friends and colleagues that were up there on that day. And my thought immediately went to, the public servants that are trying to do their job, all the way from Vice President Pence, the members of Congress, down to their staff, down to the Capitol Hill police officers, down to the custodial staff that were just up there doing their jobs, and the fact that ... That's always been one of the things that's impressed me about going up to the Capitol, is being part of this larger thing. And the place that we play in that but recognizing that everybody else up there also feels that honor and that idea that they're part of something bigger. And so, spending the whole day Wednesday and Thursday texting people and trying to figure out whether or not people were okay and how they were dealing with it, I think that's where my thoughts went first. But then the surprising thing for me on Thursday was my kids in their virtual school have been studying American democracy and the Constitution and the different branches of government this year. And their teachers all tried to talk about what had happened Thursday morning with them. And I think it was really difficult for my kids to try and wrap their minds around it. They're only 8 and 11, and they've both been up to the Capitol, they've seen it, and knowing that it's in their hometown, that was yet another thing that we had to grapple with, and I know you guys both have kids that have also visited the Capitol.

And so, we're still working through all of those feelings and trying to figure out what to tell our kids. Especially in the lead-up to an inauguration, which is usually an exciting time to be in DC, right? Whatever party it is, whoever it is coming into town, we would usually be talking about our plans for Inauguration Day, inauguration parties, looking forward to knowing the new people that are coming into Congress. Swearing-in day. The pandemic shut that down, but that's always been an exciting time to be up at the Capitol. And it's just so different now.

Jon Fansmith: Yeah, and the point about the kids, you both know I live on Capitol Hill, I live actually relatively close to the Capitol itself. And my two children are finally of an age where they would be old enough that they could manage attending an inauguration, and I was looking forward to sharing with them something that's amazing about our democracy, this peaceful transition of power, that you welcome in the new President and the people gather to do that. And after last week, my daughter was terrified. She saw SWAT teams rolling across Capitol Hill, she was out playing in the park and saw the SWAT teams rolling in response, and spent a day listening to the sirens and the helicopters while we desperately tried to control what information she was receiving about it. And so, it is, it's a blow, yes, to the feelings of safety you have in your neighborhood and your concerns for your children and what their understanding is, but it's a blow to something that I think we all thought was commonly held, which is that American democracy was something special and sacred. And it's hurtful to have to explain to your kids that something that important is not just under threat but is utterly rejected by some segment of the population, that that's no longer a common belief, that this idea that we're all working towards one greater enterprise even if we disagree, that that's no longer the case.

And no longer the case in a way that's impossible to ignore at this point, and maybe been ignoring it for a while. We obviously could talk about this for a while, frankly, just our personal feelings about it, we could talk about it for a while. We have been talking about it. But there's a lot of other things that have been happening here in Washington, DC, right before we went to the break. Since we've last had this podcast, there was a massive omnibus appropriations, COVID relief bill, and a FAFSA simplification bill, that all of the above had huge impacts on higher education. ACE has done a lot of coverage of this, we all have a comprehensive summary of the bill up, we have a short summary of the bill up, we'll link to those on the website. But just in short, $22.7 billion in support to colleges and universities is coming out. I think that's the highlight. It's helpful, but we've talked, it's not nearly enough. We've identified $120 billion, Congress and the incoming administration has said this is a down payment, we're going to hold them to that. This has to be just a down payment, there's a lot more need out there, and as people listening to this know from interacting on their campuses, that need is pretty severe. So I don't know, are there other things we should be touching on before we get to Jill? Sarah, Mushtaq, thoughts about everything that's been going on outside of the events of last week?

Mushtaq Gunja: Yeah, Jon, just a question for you. What do we know so far about how that $22.7 billion is going to be broken down?

Jon Fansmith: Yeah, no, we know a lot. The bill itself is pretty clear. The big pool of the money, about $20 billion, a little over $20 billion, is going to go to nonprofit institutions, and it's similar to the last round of federal aid. It's going to be broken out by schools' enrollment, particularly of their Pell Grant enrollment but also overall enrollment. And for people who want to know more about how that might impact their campus, ACE, our amazing Dan Madzelan did this for the last round of CARES, he did it again where he figured out what the allocations were for every institution, including breaking out the types of money you have to spend and where, and that's up on our website. We'll have a link to it on our podcast. But you can go there and look and see what your institution may be getting from that pool. There are also additional funds that are directly targeted for minority serving institutions and HBCUs as well as some smaller pools that are for students in for-profit institutions, and then competitive grants for those institutions that might not be well served by the formula but still have needs.

Sarah Spreitzer: In some ways it's comforting that the work of the federal government, the trains needing to leave on time and things like this, need to continue to happen. That they got that package passed, and now the Department of Education is turning its attention to getting that money out. On the international side of things, because I know we're going to be talking to Jill shortly, I'm dealing with an issue regarding optional practical training and the fact that there's been some delays in the processing, and it's been giving me comfort to have to draft a letter to USCIS saying, "Grant our students some flexibility." So I would just add that working on those types of things is giving me some sort of comfort.

Jon Fansmith: It is a telling statement that working on one of these letters is actually comforting. I think Sarah and I have probably produced respectively 50 or 60 letters apiece over the last year, but I second your thought. It's nice to throw yourself into something, and again, that's hopefulness about a path forward.

Mushtaq Gunja: I would much rather be working on a letter to USCIS than trying to help draft a statement from ACE about the violence in the streets. So I think that's right. And in two weeks at our next podcast we may well be able to start discussing some of the first moves that the Biden administration has taken with regard to higher ed. More of the team may well have been filled out at the department, I'm hopeful that we will have a more optimistic podcast in a couple weeks. Terrified for the next eight, nine days, but looking forward to a time when it's a more normal conversation.

Jon Fansmith: And that's a great point, Mushtaq. And I think we will, obviously ACE will keep our members and the public apprised of what's happening, and looking forward to what the new Congress and the new administration may mean for higher ed. But I second your thoughts that hopefully on this podcast in coming episodes we'll get to delve a little bit deeper into some of those things in a way that's more reflective of norms and practices that I think we all find a little comfort in right now. So we do have a great conversation coming up with Jill Allen Murray, and we will get right back to that after this break.

Sarah Spreitzer: We're so pleased to be joined today by one of our close colleagues, Jill Allen Murray. Jill is the deputy executive director of public policy at NAFSA, the Association of International Educators, where she leads the organization's public policy engagement and advocacy strategy. Prior to joining NAFSA, Jill served as managing director of a boutique advocacy firm and worked on Capitol Hill as a chief of staff and a policy director for members of Congress. She holds a masters of public administration from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University and a BA from Colgate University. Welcome, Jill.

Jill Allen Murray: Thanks so much, so happy to be here, Sarah.

Sarah Spreitzer: So many of us know NAFSA as, you guys are a big name in advocacy for international students, and we work very closely on advocacy issues. But I know NAFSA is much bigger than just that. Can you talk a bit, Jill, about NAFSA, the history of the organization, who your members are, and maybe some of the issues, the big issues you're working on right now?

Jill Allen Murray: Sure. Thanks so much. So the formal name of the organization is NAFSA, Association of International Educators. We've been around for 70 years, so a long time. And as you've said, we are the leading organization that's committed to international education and exchange, and we work to advance policies and practices that build global citizens with the knowledge and skills that they need to really succeed in an interconnected world. So our membership really does span from senior SIOs and deans who make policies on campuses to individuals who are at institutions working with students on a day-to-day basis, so student advisors. And they get to see how policies are implemented every day, and so it really spans quite a variety of individuals on campuses. Mostly our members are on campuses of universities and colleges, but we also have members who are at nonprofit organizations throughout the country and the world.

Sarah Spreitzer: And SIOs, for those who don't know?

Jill Allen Murray: Senior international officer.

Sarah Spreitzer: Great. And so do NAFSA actually, do the letters N-A-F-S-A, do they stand for anything?

Jill Allen Murray: Well, they used to, they used to and no longer do, yes.

Sarah Spreitzer: Okay, great. Well, thanks. Well, Jill, obviously we've been working a lot on issues impacting our international students and our campuses, and there's been a lot in the past four years that we're going to work to unpack. But most recently we actually saw our Open Doors report, which is, for those that don't know, it's an annual report that's put out by IIE in the fall each year that talks about enrollment trends. And for the past couple of years, we've started to see a dip in our international enrollment after seeing a decade of growth. But for the fall, due to the pandemic and other things going on, we saw a shocking drop of about 43% decline in new international student enrollment. And I know one of the really helpful reports that NAFSA does is the economic impact of international students, not just on our colleges and universities but the overall economic impact on the US economy. Can you talk a bit about that report and what you guys are seeing from that really shocking decline in fall of 2020?

Jill Allen Murray: Absolutely. So we have done an economic analysis of international students and their families for more than 20 years. And the Open Doors report that you referenced is really the data that we use to then create this analysis. For the 2019-2020 year, so it's delayed a year, we saw a loss ... Or sorry, it was the first time that we saw a decline in economic value of international students and their families. So we of course, find that alarming, but I do need to acknowledge that when speaking about the very presence of international students and their families and the value that they bring, of course it is more than economics. But the economic piece is really important. So, the numbers are worth mentioning, $38.7 billion and about 415,000 jobs are supported throughout this economic year. And when the US Commerce Department actually ranks different services, the education sector is ranked 6th nationally. So we think it's quite a sector, quite a export, and really important. But Sarah, you mentioned not just the economics but the enrollment specifically. Stuart Anderson, who is with the National Foundation for American Policy, recently has looked at those numbers, and you referenced the 43% decline in international enrollment. And he pointed out that there's 72% decline in in-person new international students. And so that's a metric that we should keep our eye on and really be attempting to bring those students who want to be in the United States here. Because while the degree is meaningful to international students, it's also the experience of being in the United States that brings them to US institutions.

Sarah Spreitzer: Right, and obviously due to the pandemic we saw a lot of issues for international students seeking to come to the US. Not just within our own country, but travel bans within their own countries and a lot of impact from that.

Jill Allen Murray: Absolutely. And there are individuals who have been in the country, most have been in the United States, but some who have gone overseas and having trouble crossing borders again to resume their education.

Jon Fansmith: Well, and even beyond the limitations on travel, I think one of the things I know that you and Sarah have worked a lot on is the fact that the current administration has in many ways seized on the pandemic to influence policy in a way, this is an administration I think I can safely say has been seen as hostile to foreign nations, and certainly to international students in higher education. And they seized on that in some ways to limit the ability of international students to enroll at and attend American institutions. Can you just talk maybe a little bit about some of the policies we've seen from this administration? And those numbers obviously, 72% decline in in-person international students, is huge, and the pandemic accounts for a big piece of that. But maybe some of these other factors about American policy in the last few years that may be having an impact as well.

Jill Allen Murray: Certainly this administration has not pursued a posture of engagement with the world, and that I think is clear. They have also had, we think, detrimental rhetoric as well as policies, and that has affected how individuals feel about whether or not they are welcome in the United States. We have had different moments with the Trump administration, where we thought there might be interest in legislative proposals related to immigration. There was rumored to be a draft bill that was supposed to be beneficial to immigrants. And at one point we had heard President Trump himself say that he wanted Chinese students in particular to feel welcome in this country. But I think the reality has been that throughout these past four years, the way that the administration's spoken about immigrants and engagement in the world has been unwelcoming, individuals have felt that, and in fact that the policies that they have attempted to implement have been really problematic. So, I think they really started with the travel ban, which was the Muslim and African travel ban right at the very beginning of the administration, and since then they really have used every level, from presidential proclamations to tiny changes in the foreign affairs manual, to pursue an agenda that is really anti-immigrant and has the intent of reducing the number of immigrants who come to this country. And of course, I think that the pandemic has made it possible for the Trump administration to continue to do this in a really robust way. And in fact, I would say it truly was a tipping point where the administration was able to use health, safety, and economic concerns to legitimize the policies that they were pursuing.

Jon Fansmith: And I think it's an interesting point, because we are at a transition point, as we record this. There will be a new Congress coming into power, there will be a new administration coming into power, and so you'll have unified control of the government by the Democratic Party that traditionally has been certainly more open to immigration and international engagement. Do you think there's much of a likelihood we'll see, in this coming Congress, comprehensive immigration reform or meaningful immigration reform that will impact colleges and universities and the ability of international students to come to the US and our students to study abroad?

Jill Allen Murray: So that's a great question. NAFSA has been for years now really engaged in the immigration reform community more broadly, and I know that NAFSA and others will push for immigration reform to come from Congress and push for the administration to pursue it themselves. The fact that these two Georgia seats have changed the balance of power in the Senate makes it more likely, but I think the reality remains that Biden and Harris and the new administration really have focused a lot of their work on the pandemic and we'll have to be amongst a number of different advocates and citizens who are saying we need this and we need it to be prioritized. So we're going to be having to make the case that immigration reform is needed right now.

Jon Fansmith: That's an excellent point, and we talk a lot about priorities within the education space, and sometimes tend to forget that there's whole segments beyond education that also have demands on the new administration and new Congress, and top priorities that will be competing for attention just as much as within the education space who do. One of the things, and Sarah has been schooling me on this, that may be more narrowly focused in terms of immigration reform would be changing the approach we currently take to dual intent. And I'm wondering if you could just elaborate for people listening a little bit about what that is and what we're trying to accomplish in that area.

Jill Allen Murray: Absolutely. So I think if Congress were to take up immigration reform, certainly bottom line in terms of how we would like changes to be made, we need a system that's not functioning well to fix what's broken. And so really that means that there are no longer backlogs, that DACA and Dreamers have a path to permanent status. But as you mentioned, there are ways that the law can be changed to make coming to this country more attractive to prospective international students. And one of those things is to expand dual intent to include international students. So that means those that are applying for student visas right now cannot say that they intend to remain in the US after they graduate. Changing that law would be really meaningful. We would also say that green cards for former international students should be on the table. And in fact, if you look at the Biden-Harris website, you'll see a reference to that. And I think on their site, they talk specifically about PhDs with STEM degrees.

Jon Fansmith: And this is actually one of those areas where there's some bipartisan agreement, in that we have talented students who come to this country, they receive excellent educations, and would be strong contributors to our economy and to our scientific and research enterprises, and we don't have a pathway for them to stay and then make those contributions. So do you see this as one of those things that maybe there is ground to work on? Even obviously a narrow Senate majority doesn't guarantee you a whole lot, but is it bipartisan enough to maybe get some action?

Jill Allen Murray: I do. Senator Moran and Senator Warner have championed a bill called the Startup Act for a number of years now, and they have in that bill, individual changes such as a path to green card for those who fit those qualifications, as you mentioned. So they're STEM specific, but individuals who have stayed in this country and studied in this country and gotten their degrees in this country. So, I think Moran as a Senator from Kansas, as a Republican Senator, is one of those great examples of somebody who sees the value and the talent that international students bring to this country and is willing to stand up and not just fight for it behind closed doors but put out a bill and put out a bill year after year and pursue it. So, in a new Congress that is going to require Democrats and Republicans to come together, he should be an important voice, and there will be other Republicans that will join. But I think the Democratic majority would like to see immigration reform pursued.

Sarah Spreitzer: You know, I think we saw it in the last four years, some legislation being introduced and starting and stopping on different pieces of this. But I think, Jill, the point about comprehensive immigration reform is so important, because in the last four years, we saw the Trump administration do a lot on the regulatory side, which I think in some ways was done because Congress has been unable to pass legislation. So you brought up DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and the fact that that policy was in place due to executive action, and then the Trump administration was able to close the program because of executive action. Because it doesn't have that legislation there to make it permanent. Thinking ahead to the Biden administration, there's also a long to-do list on the regulatory side. Given what's been done in the Trump administration, I think I saw a count that the Trump administration made 400 changes to immigration policy on the regulatory side. And that number does sound right. And actually, maybe it's actually even a bit higher. Can you talk a bit on the regulatory side? For NAFSA, what are your top policies that you will want to see the Biden administration make, perhaps in the first month, the first year? And then looking forward to the four years of the term?

Jill Allen Murray: Sure. So of course the Biden-Harris administration and campaign has said that on day one their priority would be reversing the travel ban, providing relief for Dreamers, we're very excited to see both of those things come to fruition. And in terms of engaging with the world, we know that Biden has talked about raising the cap on refugees to 125,000. That's a good sign that this administration, this incoming administration is going to have a much different posture in terms of engaging with the world. And again, we talked about the rhetoric that has come from the Trump administration. We expect to see a very big difference. And that is going to say, "You're welcome here" to prospective international students. We want to see that. I would say in a longer term we will need to see changes to how, of course, the entry of H1Bs and Js have been handled. I know, Sarah, you've been much more involved with that, but that's meaningful to international students as well. We also want to see that this incoming administration is supportive of OPT. That was one thing, in fact, that was on the regulatory agenda and we have not seen it come, we have not seen a new regulation come to fruition. I could get sidetracked potentially and talk about the paperwork issue that we do see growing up, and it's creating challenges for some individuals. But we would like to see a new administration talk about the value of OPT, optional practical training, for prospective international students and for international students who want to stay after graduation for either one or three years, depending on whether or not it's the 12-month or the STEM OPT.

And then I think there are other areas where it's probably longer term. We would love to see, as Samantha Power talks about, a really proactive recruitment strategy, if you will, for this administration to think, to put together a strategy, a whole of government strategy that would involve multiple agencies and would think about the ways in which they could proactively change policy to make coming here attractive. And some of those things will be administrative and some of those things we've already talked about in terms of Jon's question whether it's a dual intent and stapling a green card. But some of those things would have to be legislative changes as well.

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah, and that whole of government approach is interesting, and we've talked about this a lot. There are a lot of agencies that touch on international students, and that if we were looking at a proactive strategy, there's a lot that the Department of State could be doing in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security and perhaps even with the Department of Education. We know the Department of Commerce is very interested in international students as a US export and because of their economic impact. And it's funny that you mentioned the Samantha Power article, which is great. For folks that haven't read it, we'll put a link in with this podcast. But it's called "The Can-Do Power: America's Advantage and Biden's Chance," and it was in the Foreign Affairs magazine. And it talks about how to restore America back to its standing within the world and among our international partners. And international students is one of the components. And one of the things that she mentions is restoring a little-known advisory committee called the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Committee, which sat at the Department of Homeland Security and was a place for higher education to talk to those different agencies that all touched on international students and to have open and frank discussions about policies and problems that perhaps our international students were facing. And so, I think there is a lot proactively that the Biden administration can do.

And then just to circle all the way back, Jill, to the top of our conversation where we talked about those concerning numbers that we saw in this fall, do you think that we'll be able to restore the loss of our international enrollment quickly? What do you think will have to be done in order for that to happen?

Jill Allen Murray: So I think that's a great question and one that we are thinking about every day at NAFSA. Of course, we want to see a real shift in our ability to recruit the talented international students back to the United States and institutions throughout the United States. Our members are every day doing that great work. They are communicating with prospective international students, talking about how welcoming their institutions are, and I think that that is really core to this shift that's going on. And in fact, we say there might have been even worse enrollment changes had these members, NAFSAns and international educators, not been doing their great workday in and day out. The Samantha Power piece, I want to quote from this, actually, because what she says is really very direct. She says, "Biden could start by delivering a major speech announcing that his administration is joining with American universities and again welcoming international students, making clear that they are assets rather than threats." I would be so thrilled to see that come to fruition, and I think she's certainly onto something. She makes an argument, really a three-legged stool argument, that this is the way to show the world that we're ready to engage, as you mentioned, and engaging with international students is one of those legs of the stool. So, I do think improving stakeholder engagement like institutions and associations, as you mentioned, HSAC, is a way that that could happen, and I think that's something that the Biden administration should be thinking about.

Jon Fansmith: And I think that's a really interesting point, and obviously I love that quote too. I think one of the things we've talked a lot about is making sure that America and American institutions are welcoming to international students, but the flip side of the coin obviously with international education is American students getting exposure to other countries, other cultures, learning about the world around them. And so I know there are some initiatives under way to increase the number of students, and particularly to diversify the pool of students who are studying abroad. I think the Paul Simon Study Abroad Program, that's one of the things that I know NAFSA and ACE have worked on in the past to support. Could you talk a little bit about that program and what that means, and why our organizations are supportive of it?

Jill Allen Murray: Absolutely. So this bill has been introduced in the past few Congresses in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion, that's Durbin, Wicker in the Senate, Bustos and Katko in the House. We think it is a fantastic proposal for increasing the number of students who don't have access to study abroad in other countries. But it goes further and attempts to incentivize institutions to create programs that would both allow for individuals who are in underrepresented categories or backgrounds and don't typically have an option to go do so. We also think that the component of the bill that attempts to bring students to countries that are not the typical landing place for where American students would go is an important piece of that bill. So we would like to see that advance in the coming Congress, and we'll continue to pursue it. Of course, we're at a moment in time when the pandemic has really shifted education abroad, study abroad, and our ability for American students to go study in other countries. Doing this in person is going to be critical, and getting people back to in-person opportunities is going to be critical. But in the interim, we have really seen institutions who know how to do this virtually stand up and continue to push forward with virtual exchanges, and we think that that's a great option right now. And if the federal government would like to continue to support education abroad, we'd like to see it happen in both ways, that they support virtual exchange and support something like the Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act.

Jon Fansmith: Well, and I think that highlights exactly how much work you have ahead of you in the coming year, with the rundown of legislative proposals and regulatory changes and many other things. So we don't want to keep you any longer from getting back to that very important work, but I just want to say thank you so much, Jill, for joining us. I know many of the things that you have referenced will be available on the website for this episode of the podcast, for people who are listening, they can check. And of course, encourage them to go to NAFSA's website as well to learn more and engage more on these issues and help in the advocacy space there. But Jill, once again, thank you for taking the time to join us today.

Jill Allen Murray: Thanks so much, Jon. Thanks, Sarah.

Sarah Spreitzer: Thanks, Jill.

Jon Fansmith: To listen to earlier episodes and subscribe to dotEDU, you can find us on Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Google Podcast, and wherever you get your podcasts. For show notes and links to resources mentioned in the episode, you can go to our website at acenet.edu/podcast. And you can also use our email, podcast@acenet.edu, for suggestions for upcoming shows or guests you'd like to see, or just thoughts on how we're doing. Before we go, I'd like to thank Carly O'Connell, Laurie Arnston, Audrey Hamilton, and Malcolm Moore. They're the exceptional producers of dotEDU and make us sound as good as we do every episode. And finally, I'd like to thank you for listening.

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​Each episode of dotEDU presents a deep dive into a major public policy issue impacting college campuses and students across the country. Hosts from ACE are joined by guest experts to lead you through thought-provoking conversations on topics such as campus free speech, diversity in admissions, college costs and affordability, and more. Find all episodes of the podcast at the dotEDU page.

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