Brussels, 09 Jan 2006
US President George Bush has told a summit of university presidents that he understands their frustration concerning tough visa controls on foreign students due to national security concerns, and has promised to strike a better balance.
Concerns have been expressed in the US that the number of foreign students enrolling in US universities has declined since tougher visa conditions were introduced after 11 September 2001, which some argue damages the country's competitive position.
'It's in our national interest that we solve visa issues,' said Mr Bush. 'We have been calibrating the proper balance after September the 11th, and I fully understand some of your frustrations, particularly when you say the balance wasn't actually calibrated well.'
However, rather than focus on the competitiveness arguments for easing visa controls, President Bush pointed to the positive impact that studying in the US could have on perceptions of the country in other parts of the world, linking such a move to the wider 'war on terror'.
'[W]e're going to get it right,' he concluded, 'because the more youngsters who come to America to get educated, the more likely it is people in the world will understand the true nature of America. [...] I vow that we'll find that proper balance between security and letting people come to our universities for the good of this country.'