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The Washington Diplomat Hosts Global Education Conference at French Embassy

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On Nov. 12, The Washington Diplomat hosted its inaugural Global Education Conference (GEC) at the French Embassy to explore the latest trends and developments affecting international students, both here in the U.S. and abroad.

The all-day conference brought representatives from over three dozen embassies together with U.S. government officials, businesses, universities and other educational institutions to examine a variety of critical topics, including: visa and immigration issues; future learning trends such as artificial intelligence; lessons in leadership; 21st-century skills; women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math); and how embassies promote foreign exchange and study abroad programs.

The conference took place just before the Institute of International Education (IIE), in conjunction with the State Department, released its 2019 Open Doors report on international students and scholars.

The report showed that the number of international students in the United States hit an all-time high in the 2018-19 academic year, which marked the fourth year in a row with more than 1 million international students in the U.S.. According to data from the Department of Commerce, international students contributed $44.7 billion to the U.S. economy in 2018, an increase of 5.5% from the previous year.

For the 10th consecutive year, China remained the largest source of international students in the U.S., with 369,548 students studying here — a 1.7% increase from the previous year. India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Canada rounded out the top five.

A little over half of these students pursued STEM fields, and much of the growth in international education in the U.S. in recent years is due to policy changes that allow STEM students to remain in the U.S. for 36 months after completing their studies. The number of students enrolling for the first time at a U.S. institution in 2018-19 actually declined by 0.9%, a slight recovery from sharper declines the year before.

Meanwhile, over 340,000 U.S. students participated in study abroad programs, a 2.7% increase over the previous year, with Europe remaining most popular destination for American students.

The latest numbers illustrate both the enduring importance of international education as well as the complexities and changes taking place throughout the field — all of which was touched on by GEC speakers.

Below are highlighted excerpts from the various discussions and speeches. To view more of the conference, visit https://bit.ly/2t2RU1S or like The Washington Diplomat on Facebook.

Last Edited on December 23, 2019