President Clinton Issues Executive Memorandum on International Education

April 19, 2000 Download pdf

President Clinton gave NAFSA's strategic objective of pursuing a U.S. international education policy a big boost when he signed an April 19, 2000 memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies calling for an international education policy. The executive memorandum reflects the substance, as well as the details, outlined in the NAFSA/Alliance international education policy statement issued earlier this year. NAFSA views this presidential action as the first step in putting the international education policy into practice.

Specifically, the executive memorandum states: "It is the policy of the federal government to support international education. We are committed to:

  • Encouraging students from other countries to study in the United States
  • Promoting study abroad by U.S. students
  • Supporting the exchange of teachers, scholars, and citizens at all levels of society
  • Enhancing programs at U.S. institutions that build international partnerships and expertise
  • Expanding high-quality foreign language learning and in-depth knowledge of other cultures by Americans
  • Preparing and supporting teachers in their efforts to interpret other countries and cultures for their students
  • Advancing new technologies that aid the spread of knowledge throughout the world"

Stating that the federal government cannot accomplish these goals alone, the president calls upon educational institutions, state and local governments, non-governmental organizations, and the business community to contribute to this effort. The president's memorandum directs the heads of executive departments and agencies to work with the private sector to accomplish numerous specific objectives, and appoints the vice president to coordinate the U.S. government's international education strategy. The memorandum further directs that the heads of agencies report to the vice president and to the president on their progress in carrying out the terms of the memorandum.

In an address on international education delivered on the same day that President Clinton signed the directive, Secretary of Education Richard Riley noted that nations across the world are keen on fostering greater faculty and student exchanges and suggested a series of new steps to re-energize the cause of international education in the United States. "At the very least," he stated, "the United States should meet the newly established G-8 (industrialized nations) goal of at least doubling its exchange opportunities in higher education in the next 10 years and that means finding new ways of sending and recruiting twice as many students."

NAFSA and the Alliance will continue to seek hearings in Congress on an international education policy for the United States and to work with the presidential candidates so that the next administration will sustain this important effort.