According to the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, the Biden administration must take additional steps to ensure that the United States “remains the world leader in higher education for decades to come.”
A variety of recommendations for the White House, the Departments of State, Education, Homeland Security, and the US Agency for International Development are included in the organization’s Administrative Agenda.
The politically independent collaboration advocates for the establishment of a White House-level office to coordinate efforts among agencies, as well as for top politicians and administrators to continue communicating the “power of international students and scholars to build a stronger economy, solve global and local challenges, and strengthen our security.” Additional actions, similar to the White House’s National Interest Exceptions for students during Covid-19 and January 2022 initiatives to attract STEM talent and strengthen US economic competitiveness, “will facilitate access to higher education opportunities in the United States for refugee learners and other international students.”
The Department of Education should “be a champion” for policies and practises that aid in the implementation of the Joint Statement of Principles beginning in 2021, as well as “continue to provide flexibility to institutions in administering pandemic relief to students, scholars, and others on their campuses.” Both the Departments of State and Homeland Security are urged to “continue to articulate the importance of international students and scholars.”
DOS must provide improved and consistent visa application processing and guidance, particularly regarding financial evidence, as well as “transparent and clear” information to students about visa denials. According to the report, DHS should prioritise predictable USCIS processing times and implement technological improvements.
The Presidents’ Alliance also renewed calls for J-visa holders to be granted Special Student Relief and for SSR to be linked to Temporary Protected Status. Furthermore, as part of the US’s foreign policy and development strategy, USAID should prioritise international student recruitment, implement USAID administrator Samantha Power’s vision outlined prior to her appointment, and reinvest in funding international students in “strategic areas of the world.”
“Too often, students from nations of strategic interest to the US cannot afford to study in the US, while other competitor nations are recruiting them and offering them scholarships,” the statement reads.
“Our recommendations seek to unleash the power of international students and scholars to build a stronger economy, solve global and local challenges, and strengthen our security,” Jill Welch, senior policy advisor to the Presidents’ Alliance said.
“This administration has already taken several important steps to empower our colleges and universities in the midst of heightened competition from other nations for these talented students, but further action is still needed.
“These recommendations, if adopted swiftly and comprehensively, could help ensure that the US remains the world leader in higher education for decades to come.”
As “the global refugee crisis continues to worsen,” the United States should consider developing a complementary pathway for refugees through university sponsorship, according to Laura Wagner, project manager for the Presidents’ Alliance’s Initiative on US Education Pathways for Refugee Students.
In addition to allowing refugees to pursue higher education, it allows colleges and universities to live out their missions and broadens the experiential diversity and perspectives on campuses across the United States. Colleges and universities are ready to support the United States’ promise and commitment to welcome and integrate refugees by providing additional routes, mentorship, and adaptability.
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