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Hello, everybody.

Welcome to this year’s conference for NAFSA, the Association of International Educators.

For 75 years, NAFSA members have helped make international education possible. You’ve opened your classrooms and resources to students, researchers, and professionals from other nations. You’ve supported your own citizens as they venture abroad. And in doing so, you’ve helped build vast networks of global goodwill and cooperation, starting from your campuses.

These are powerful connections.

International students share their talents and cultures with their new communities – and bring what they learned abroad back home. Exchanges can create lifelong friendships, spark artistic creativity, and fuel collaboration on groundbreaking research.

Studying in other countries also helps us to see the world through another’s eyes. That’s what living and going to school in France as a kid did for me – and it’s a perspective that has shaped my life ever since.

In this way, international exchanges build new bonds and mutual understanding that help us collaborate on critical issues – whether that’s combatting climate change, advancing public health, or creating economic opportunities for all our people.

That’s why international education is an important part of our diplomacy and our national security, and why supporting these programs is a priority for the Biden Administration.

At the State Department, we’re working to expand international education. After the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic ended, more and more international students began applying to study in the United States again. So, we took steps to streamline our visa process and make it easier for students to apply – including by asking our consular teams to prioritize student visas and expanding the opportunities for some students to apply for a visa without an interview.  Last year, we issued over 580,000 student visas – the highest number in five years.

The State Department is also working with other governments to create new opportunities for our citizens to conduct research and study abroad. And we’re working with higher education institutions and NAFSA to share information with students about international opportunities, and to host exchanges like the Fulbright Program.

The State Department is also working hard to make international education inclusive and accessible, so exchange opportunities are available to – and can benefit from – the full diversity of our country. We’re teaming up with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities to recruit more students and faculty from Hispanic-serving institutions. We’ve eliminated the minimum length for the Gilman Scholarship program, so more students, including those with family or work obligations, can join shorter – but impactful – study abroad opportunities. And we’re always looking for opportunities to do more.

If you’d like to learn more about these initiatives, please stop by the State Department’s information booth. My colleagues from our Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs are eager to answer your questions.

Whether you’re joining this conference as a professor, faculty member, study abroad coordinator, or government representative, we’re grateful for your leadership. And we’re looking forward to continuing our partnership, now and in the years to come.

Thank you, and have a great conference, everybody!

U.S. Department of State

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