Office of the Spokesperson
From November 15-19, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education are celebrating International Education Week (IEW). This year is the 22nd annual celebration of IEW, a joint initiative by both agencies to highlight the benefits of international education and exchange. International education — both welcoming international students to the United States and encouraging more Americans to experience the world through study abroad — remains a cornerstone of the Department of State’s academic exchange and public diplomacy efforts.
During IEW, schools and universities across the United States and around the world will focus on the importance of international education in fostering security and economic growth and highlight the importance of ensuring that more students and scholars have access to international educational experiences. The Departments of State and Education are strongly committed to international education as evidenced in the recent release of the Joint Statement of Principles in Support of International Education.
To kick off IEW, the Department of State, in collaboration with the Institute of International Education, released the annual Open Doors Report, a seminal resource for the United States, U.S. partner governments overseas, and the global higher education community that sets the standard for data and trend analysis on student and scholar mobility. The report has been an important benchmark for international educational exchange to the United States for more than 70 years.
The United States remained open to international students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and was once again the top destination for international study in academic year 2020/21, welcoming 914,095 international students to U.S. colleges and universities. More than 710,000 international students enrolled at the undergraduate, graduate and non-degree levels from more than 200 places of origin. In addition, more than 200,000 international students pursued Optional Practical Training (OPT) experiences.
International education promotes mutual understanding among people from different nations and helps ensure that Americans from all walks of life better understand the world and are prepared to effectively engage with their neighbors.
The United States wholeheartedly welcomes international students, researchers, scholars, and exchange alumni on U.S. campuses. As a leader in research and innovation, the United States provides opportunities to engage in cutting-edge scientific collaboration with American peers. In turn, U.S. students, educators, and researchers benefit enormously from engaging with their international peers and from being exposed to their ideas, their perspectives, cultures, and languages. Together they have made significant contributions to the development of treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, and in many other STEM-related fields.
The Department of State’s global network of more than 430 EducationUSA international student advising centers operates in 175 countries and territories to promote U.S. higher education to students around the world by offering accurate, comprehensive, and current information about opportunities to study at accredited postsecondary institutions in the United States.
The Open Doors data also provides insight into the pandemic’s effect on American students’ participation in study abroad programs in 2019/20. Facing restrictions on international travel, U.S. institutions demonstrated tremendous dedication and flexibility in supporting American students through virtual offerings and in-person study where safe to do so. These efforts ensured that American students remain globally engaged during this unprecedented time. As study abroad slowly returns, we must recommit ourselves to ensuring that study abroad becomes ever more accessible to, and reflective of, the rich diversity of the United States. Our commitment to Americans studying abroad is a commitment to our collective future.
The Department of State is committed to supporting and diversifying American student mobility including through participation in U.S.-sponsored exchange programs, such as the Fulbright Program, the Critical Language Scholarship Program, and the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship program.