Senate acts to lure foreign students

A bill provision passed to help market U.S. colleges to international students.

by Elizabeth Giorgi

Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., is seeking to attract international students to U.S. colleges and Universities by developing ACTION.

American Competitiveness Through International Openness Now is an amendment Coleman introduced to the U.S. Senate in February, with the help of Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.

The amendment passed in the . Senate on Oct. 27 to the fiscal year 2006 labor, health and human services, and education appropriations bill.

If passed by the House, ACTION will develop a marketing tool to help advertise American colleges to international students through ad campaigns and Internet tools.

“This amendment is a necessary step in reversing the decline in foreign students in U.S. higher education and puts America back on track in terms of global competitiveness,” Coleman said in a news release.

Coleman initially introduced ACTION in February and summits were held in Mankato, St. Cloud and Minneapolis to discuss the different causes of the decline in international students enrolled in American colleges.

“Reversing the perception that America is unwelcoming to foreign students is as important as fixing the glitches in the visa process,” Coleman said.

“I am delighted that (the amendment) has gone this far,” said Kay Thomas, International Student and Scholar Services Office director.

Thomas spoke at the event in February and was active in supporting the amendment.

It is important that the United States develops a strategy to attract international students and bring them to U.S. schools, she said. ACTION is just the first step on a national level.

“This adds a tremendous amount of energy behind this issue,” she said.

Thomas said the pressure to attract international students was primarily resting on individual colleges, and the government needed to take a more active part in placing recruitment on the national agenda.

Thomas said by adding marketing tools such as advertising, the national agenda is clearer.

Andrea Scott, Graduate School department director said the amendment is good for strategically marketing the country.

The amendment is aimed to help the communication, she said. Time will tell whether the University or any other colleges across the country will have an easier time recruiting students, she said.

“Cooperation between the federal government departments will make it easier for us to recruit students if it is successful,” Scott said.

If the amendment and the key concepts work the way they are supposed to, she said, students and schools will experience a positive impact from it.