BOSTON. United States secretary of state Madeleine Albright has given an unqualified endorsement to international education exchanges, which university officials worry may be threatened by the merger of the agency that administered the programmes with the State Department.
The United States Information Agency was abolished on October 1, raising fears that the
fellowships, scholarships and grants it administered to encourage international exchanges would be lost inside the State Department.
But Dr Albright, speaking at the 80th anniversary celebration of the Institute of International Education in New York, said she was "absolutely committed to
preserving the integrity of these programmes", which she said would actually be expanded.
"This was no mere bureaucratic reshuffling," Dr Albright said. "It reflects our understanding that, in today's world, public diplomacy must be an integral part of our foreign policy."
Fewer than 1 per cent of Americans enrolled at universities study abroad.
"As educators, we have to do better," IIE's president, Allan Goodman, told 300 business,
education, foundation and policy leaders. "Diplomats connect nations, but it is education exchanges that create people whose minds are open to the world."
Dr Albright echoed those sentiments. She said international exchanges are essential at a time of increased globalisation.