Student Mobility and the OAS

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Strategies to attract and recruit international students were a topic of discussion earlier this month during a seminar hosted in Washington, DC, by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Coimbra Group of Brazilian Universities (GCUB).

The event brought key higher education leaders together to strengthen existing partnerships in the Americas and highlight new recruitment and exchange possibilities.

I had the opportunity to represent NACAC at the seminar and came back with these takeaways:

Student mobility among Latin American students is on the rise. Brazil, in particular, has emerged as a growth market within international education in recent years. The number of Brazilian students studying in the US increased by 9.8 percent from 2018 to 2019, according to the 2019 Open Doors report from the Institute of International Education (IIE). Meanwhile, IIE data shows that 15 percent of US students studying abroad in 2018-19 chose Latin America or the Caribbean as their destination.

Membership in the OAS includes plenty of perks for students (and for universities, too). I was enthusiastic to learn – after having worked in higher education for 18 years – the many benefits the OAS provides for citizens and permanent residents of its 35 member states. The United States is an OAS member state and as such provides opportunities for international students from other OAS member states who want to study at a US institution. Approximately 43 US higher education institutions belong to the OAS Consortium of Universities. For the 2020-21 academic year, one member of the OAS Consortium of Universities, Western Kentucky University, is offering up to $11,400 in tuition waivers for citizens of OAS member states. Check out the complete list of OAS consortium institutions offering scholarships and learn how universities that join the consortium can tap into the OAS Academic Scholarship Program to increase financial support for international students.

A shared commitment to international education can encourage unlikely partnerships. Overall, I was pleased to see a wide range of countries, some of which are in political opposition, come together at the seminar for the common good of education and international mobility. As former President Barack Obama once stated: “Simple exchanges can break walls down between us, for when people come together and speak to one another and share a common experience, then their common humanity is revealed.”

Tiziana G. Marchante is NACAC’s project coordinator for educational content & policy. You can reach her at tmarchante@nacacnet.org.

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