In the midst of the debt ceiling negotiations here in the United States, the FY 12 budget debate is also heating up, and there is a lot at stake for higher education and international education. We’ve already seen the United States Department of Education cancel the Fulbright-Hays international research programs (if you are a U.S. citizen and would like to electronically sign a petition to Save Fulbright-Hays Programs you can do so here) due to budget cuts. The Department of Education also cancelled the Title VI American Overseas Research Centers (AORC) program (and you can electronically sign a petition to Restore Funding to American Overseas Research Centers here) due to the same budget cuts. And, just last week The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to to eliminate The East-West Center. According to the Chronicle, the legislation “would repeal a 1960 law that established the East-West Center, which allows American scholars, students, journalists, and government and business leaders to study, train, and conduct research with their counterparts from Asia and the Pacific. The nonprofit organization receives $21-million from the federal government and $10-million more from corporations, foundations, and other governments.”
NAFSA: Association of International Educators is reporting today that CEO Marlene Johnson sent letters last week to key members of the House Appropriations Committee requesting their support in funding international activities in the Departments of State, Education and Commerce for FY 2012. You can read Marlene Johnson’s letters here. NAFSA has also highlighted key international education priorities as the FY 2012 budget is debated in Washington, D.C. which you can read here. If you haven’t yet joined NAFSA’s Connecting Our World at http://www.connectingourworld.org/ I strongly encourage you to do so and you can be a voice for international education. There is more to Connecting Our World than just joining. You must take action when necessary and NAFSA makes it so easy it will literally take 20 seconds of your day to let your elected officials in Washington know the importance of international education programming to the United States.
All of this really shouldn’t be a surprise. Back on October 28, 2010 I reported here on IHEC Blog that then Republican Senate Candidate for Pennsylvania Pat Toomey (now Senator Pat Toomey) had twice spoken on national media outlets as the November election neared about cutting funding and consolidating federal international educational exchange programs and funding (you can watch his interviews here). We have still not fully recovered from one of the worst financial crises in the history of the United States and, to be sure, we need to make budget cuts across the board (including to international education programming) but it is critical that your voice be heard because you can imagine how Mr. Toomey will vote (and there are many more of his colleagues out there that feel the same about international education programs).
Across the Atlantic our friends over in Europe think a bit different about international exchange programs and according to EurActive.com “Europe’s most celebrated student exchange programme is set to win a 71% funding increase under European Commission plans for the 2014-2020 budget, with education and training schemes now all regrouped under the Erasmus brand. The education sector won the biggest percentage increase under the EU’s long-term budget and is set to leap 71%, from €8.76 billion to €15.2 billion, for the period 2014-2020 under proposals submitted last week.”