printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

U.S. Educational and Cultural Exchange with China

FPC Briefing
Ann Stock
Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs
Allan Goodman, President and CEO of Institute of International Education (IIE)
Foreign Press
Washington, DC
November 16, 2010


Date: 11/16/2010 Location: Washington D.C. Description: Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock and Allan Goodman, President and CEO of Institute of International Education (IIE) hold a roundtable discussion on the U.S. educational and cultural exchange with China at the Washington Foreign Press Center on November 16, 2010. - State Dept Image

9:00 A.M. EST

MODERATOR: Thank you all very much for joining us. It’s always a pleasure when we can talk about international and cultural exchanges. We have with us today, Assistant Secretary of State Ann Stock and we have the president of IIE Mr. Allan Goodman here. You all have bios, and you also have information from IIE. And without further ado, we’re going to turn it over to – they want me to call them Ann and Allan, and I’ll try to do that. (Laughter.) I’m going to turn it over.

But just to give you all a brief idea of how things are going to flow, our briefing here will be about 30 minutes. We have Fulbright students from China who are here. And our Fulbright students – well, they’re not in the room, but after this briefing is over what we’ll do is we’ll take you all, everyone that wants to speak directly to the students, we’re going to take you around to the television studio so that you can speak one on one with the students. And again, with the students it will be about – it should be no more than about 15 to 20 minutes.

And with that, we’re going to turn it over.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Okay. I think we just wanted to say a couple of things, and then we’d be happy to take all of your questions. Both of us are delighted to be here this morning. Yesterday was a very important day for us, because the Open Doors Report for 2010 was released. And I guess one of the things I’d like to say is that President Obama and our Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, have long stressed the importance of educational exchange and educational opportunity. As you saw from the report yesterday, the 2009-2010 academic year, the number of Chinese students studying in the United States increased to 128,000, which is just shy of a 30 percent increase.

We, on behalf of the State Department, we’re delighted that Chinese students are finding it valuable to study in our institutions of higher education. And I think today there’s a real global expectation that no major issue can be solved without the active engagement of the United States and China working in concert together. So our common effort requires that we work together, we understand each other, we know each other, we collaborate, and we connect. So I think that’s just how I would like to open it, with just adding that. And I know Allan had a few remarks that we wanted to make from yesterday’s report.

MR. GOODMAN: Thank you Secretary Stock. My colleague Patricia Chow is part of our research department, so she is also here and available to answer any questions for you. We’re really very happy that your students are here, here in record numbers. And we’re also very grateful for China’s open doors and welcoming American students to study in your country.

I think if Confucius were born in this century, he would say it’s better to take the journey of 10,000 miles than read 10,000 books. (Laughter.) And education really is about connecting people, something that Secretary Stock and Secretary Clinton are very committed to and have greatly expanded programs in our country that make that possible, especially the Fulbright program.

We welcome your questions.

MODERATOR: And for questions we ask that if you can please first say your name, your news organization, and then ask your question. Yes, go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah. My name is WEN, Xian. I’m the correspondent for the People's Daily. Well, my question is, I know now China is the top of the list (IIE, Open Doors Report 2010). What do you think this change means for the significance of the relationships of our two countries?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Well, I guess I’d say I’d go back to what I just said a minute ago, is that it will help us know each other, understand and connect, and continue to do that. I think by working together we identify the next generation of China’s scholars, teachers, and experts. We identify the next generation of the United States scholars, teachers, and experts that will know each other over their lifetime and work together. I think that’s a very important thing that we continue to build those collaborations, both personally and at the university level. Allan?

MR. GOODMAN: Well, you’re sharing with us your most important resource, which are your young people. One of the reasons that China is now number one is that so many more are coming to undergraduate studies in the United States. Most countries send their people for graduate education to our country. China is leading the way in sending undergraduate students here, so that’s only going to deepen the relationships between families, between professors, students, and ultimately both of our people.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: And also I think I’d add one thing. When Allan touched on the undergraduates studying here, the capacity of U.S. higher education system – there’s lots of room to grow. So we welcome students studying from abroad, from China and from all over the world. We see that as an important asset for us in internationalizing our classrooms and our university campuses. It will help our students understand the more global economy, and together they’ll work together on the challenges that they all face together in the future. So I think it’s very important to make sure that we have Chinese students, as well as students from around the world and scholars from around the world, studying in our institutions of higher education.

Yes?

QUESTION: YANG, Limin from China Youth Daily. I see that China has 127,628 Chinese students in the United States. What do you think the factors contributed to the sharp increase during the last year?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Allan, do you want to answer that.

MR. GOODMAN: Patricia and I think it’s really the focus on undergraduates. Maybe eight or nine years ago China was number one before, when most of the people coming here were coming for graduate education. I think what caused the surge this year is the unprecedented undergraduate education.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Absolutely. And as you know, Chinese students are interested in (inaudible) to do what – the best they can in order to get a career when they go home to China. They recognize that a U.S. education will offer them a lot of competitive advantages and also that the world is becoming more and more globalized. Many Chinese students are interested in studying business and they’re interested in perhaps in the future doing business with the United States. So starting early and getting an education in the United States will give them a cultural advantage and they’ll be able to interact with their future coworkers.

Yes.

QUESTION: YU, Donghui from China press. Actually yesterday I went to the IIE conference but I still have a question.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Sure.

QUESTION: We often see a contradictory phenomenon regarding our students’ visa application. On the one hand, the United States tries to attract the most talented students from other countries to study in the United States and work for the United States. But on the other hand, when a student applies for a student visa in American embassy or consulate overseas, they usually need to provide evidence that they have a connection with the homeland country and they will return to their home country after graduation.
How would you explain this contradictory phenomenon, how to take balance?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: The only thing that I would say is we are constantly working with our Consular Affairs Office and our Assistant Secretary of State of Consular Affairs to look for ways to always improve the visa process system. And I think we’ve actively in the last year and will continue to look for ways that we can make sure that we improve that. It’s very important for us to make sure that we do have the most talented students in the United States. So I think you’ll see us be transparent about that process and continue to work on solving any challenges that might have arisen in that system.
Anything you’d like to add?
MR. GOODMAN: I would. For our work, it’s very unusual to have a country where the president, the secretary of state, the minister of interior, the head of the consular service all say we welcome international students. It is a national policy for the United States, I think, to welcome and facilitate students and scholars coming here. And I think the Department of State is issuing visas in record numbers to students. That’s why these numbers are up substantially.
Our law requires us to be sure that the intention is not to live here permanently, because if you want to live here permanently, there’s another category that you can apply for. So this is for nonimmigrant student visas, people who study here and return. And that’s really what the visa officer is trying to determine – are you committed after your studies here going back to your country. And that’s in the interest of both of our countries.
QUESTION: I remember that State Secretary Rice and – former State Secretary Rice and former State of the Homeland Security Chertoff proposed – initiate a kind of plan that could balance attracting the international students who work in the United States and also the immigrant -- immigration system reform. I just wonder if the plan is still working.
MR. GOODMAN: Well, I think the government is committed to having students come here for their studies and return home. What we represent on the student visa side of things as opposed to the immigration side of things. So we’re both committed to having students come here and we’re both committed to having them go home.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: We are. And I also think in peak periods when we are looking at an influx of students, we work very hard to make sure that that system is working at the very top levels.
Yes.
QUESTION: Shanshan Wang with China Radio International. Chinese students have gone through a very different educational system as the U.S. students do when they enter college. As Chinese students become integrated in this educational system, what do you think Chinese students could bring to the U.S. education, higher education system?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Well, first of all, I just think anytime you meet one on one and start talking to each other, both of your views of the other countries conceptions you might have had changed. I know before I came to the State Department, I worked at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. And during that time, we did a major international festival and brought 900 Chinese artists to the United States. I visited China, I think, four or five times. And each time, I found a different view of what I thought was enhanced by the deep richness of the people and the culture.
So I think bringing students onto an American campus to start a dialogue with American students – both ways – so that we basically open up talking about what we stand for, how we work together, our mutual collaboration, our working together for the next 40, 50, 60 years – I think one of the things that I always stress about exchanges that I personally feel is important is it’s building a network of people that will work together, essentially, for a lifetime. So when you bring students, scholars, and teachers from China to connect with students, scholars, and teachers from the United States, that’s an important network. It’s also an important network of the Chinese students, scholars, and teachers that will come that will go back and work within your country to expand capacity and figure out how to basically expand the knowledge and pass on the knowledge that they may have learned in the United States.
It just goes both ways. I think it’s – if you go back and look at what Senator Fulbright talked about 60 years ago, it’s people-to-people connections from mutual understanding. It’s pretty simple, it’s 60 years old, it’s stood the test of time. Every time we have students working together, one-on-one, both of their lives change and they do find – especially teachers, scholars and students find ways to collaborate that they might not have thought about before they started their exchange.
MR. GOODMAN: So I’m going to answer it a little differently. We were a host family for a Chinese student when my children were in high school. And every evening after supper, the Chinese student would thank us for dinner, help us wash the dishes, and then he would go upstairs to his room. And my boy said, “What’s wrong?” (Laughter.) They went outside to play basketball or video games and I said, “He’s going upstairs to study and study his English and his math.” After a couple of weeks, our boys came into the kitchen with our Chinese host son and they started washing the dishes and they went up to their rooms and started studying. (Laughter.)
So you bring a value of education and a work ethic to young Americans on our campuses that’s also very important to share and benefits us.
QUESTION: ZHU, Hua (CCTV) I want to have a follow-up question to that, because as it said in the news or FPC media announcement that international students have had a growing and a lasting positive impact on the campus institutions they attend as well as on the U.S. society. So would you please give us more examples or experiences on that?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Well, I can only use my own example, is that I grew up in Indiana. Until I was in college, I had never left Indiana. I met a number of foreign students at the school that was in my town, but in meeting the people that were students from China and all over the world – I was in the town where Perdue University was – I started to be very curious about other societies. So I would do things like go to the library and look up the country and find out what it stood for and what it meant and what – anything I could find about those countries.
So I spent a lot of time after I’d met international students when I was quite a young person. They inspired me to look outside my state of Indiana and to realize that there’s a bigger global world out there. I didn’t really travel internationally until I graduated from college, and that was – my first trip abroad was after I graduated from college. But I had studied – much like Allan said, his Chinese son went upstairs and studied – I studied everything there was to know and read all kinds of books on other international societies long before I ever set foot in another country.
So I think there’s a curiosity that people have. I think it’s very important for American students to learn other languages, to learn about a larger global society, to learn about other cultures, and again, I have a son who is 30 years old. He is operating in a very different global society than I grew up. He’s grown up as a global citizen. I grew up as a citizen of Indiana in the United States, and became a global citizen. So I think there’s a big difference there, but our young people now are products of a global society. And the more opportunity that we can give them to operate within that global society, the better off I think all of us will be.
QUESTION: Secretary Stock and Dr. Goodman, my name is WANG, Fengfeng from Xinhua News Agency. A while ago, there was a news report which says a principal from a high school in Maine was going to China, scouting for international students actually to come into the United States as middle school students. As we have witnessed and as you said, there are – actually, people are coming to United States to study – are becoming younger. And as you just mentioned, the intention of bringing them here is to – so that they can go back to China and have, say, a competitive edge.
But as extremely young people come here in the United States, well, they actually don’t have the opportunity to learn Chinese language and how Chinese people are thinking. They actually become more Americanized. So do you have any comment on this? And how – are they going to have an advantage when they’re coming back to China? They have to deal with Chinese people.
MR. GOODMAN: Well, I think the reason it was a newspaper story is that it’s pretty rare at the high school level; high school exchanges are still pretty rare in our country. I wish they were more common because I think young people growing up can benefit from a year in each other’s countries. But it’s – I’m not alarmed that they would lose their Chinese-ness. They were here for a year and then went to – went back home. Nor am I alarmed that American high school students would –
QUESTION: (WANG, Fengfeng XINHUA NEWS AGENCY) But actually – let me interrupt you – that when Chinese students come here for high school, they actually stay on and into college here, maybe for like, seven to eight years of education.
MR. GOODMAN: Well, I think your country has embraced that experience, because you have people here in the graduate programs for six and eight years that return to your society and become very successful professors, very successful government officials. I think that will continue. And I don’t think any – either society will lose by that. And I think it’s in everybody’s advantage to have deep experience in both places. You’ll notice from this data that most Americans go abroad for a very short period of time, a few weeks to a semester. We wish it were much longer, and we don’t worry at all about them losing their Americanness.
The other point that’s really critical is, as parents, we really have to raise our children in now to be global citizens, like Secretary Stock’s son. And that begins with education. It begins with a longer experience than most Americans have.
MODERATOR: Yes?
QUESTION: Do you have time for another question?
MODERATOR: Sure.
QUESTION: (WANG, Shanshan CHINA RADIO INTERNATIONAL) There was a case this year, which was quite a big topic in Beijing. The student with the highest score at the entrance examination is applying for universities in the United States and is turned down by 11 top universities. So people wondered, what kind of students will be admitted by U.S. universities? And what do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of Chinese students applying for U.S. universities? And what kind of advice would you give to Chinese students applying?
MR. GOODMAN: So I think if Secretary Stock and I applied to colleges today that we went to we wouldn’t get in.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: We wouldn’t get in. (Laughter). We wouldn’t. (Laughter.)
MR. GOODMAN: It’s very --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Very competitive.
MR. GOODMAN: But Secretary Stock made a really critical point. We have enormous capacity. And if you applied to 11 of the top U.S. universities, you may not get in any one of them because it’s so competitive.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Just like our students.
MR. GOODMAN: But if you think about a range of universities throughout our country, the world is much more open, especially to international students these days.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: I think one of the things that we are saying through our education advising centers all over the world, it’s very important for students from every country to look at the diversity of higher education institutions in the United States. We do have a depth and breadth. What do we have?
MR. GOODMAN: Four thousand.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Four thousand colleges all over the United States. And there is pressure, both within the United States and from other countries, to apply to 10, or 11, or 12 schools. I think what we try and encourage people to do, and this happens within the American society, is that we actually match the talent of the student with a university that would – might be a very good fit for them. So we really look at the diversity and the depth of the U.S. higher education system.
There are 4,000 colleges here. And so I think the message that is an important one to take out of this question is just that there is a broad range of very important universities and colleges within the United States that will fit the experience of each student. So I think that’s just a message that may not be a worldwide message that we need to make sure we’re imparting. Our higher education system is extremely strong.
The other piece of it is, is that there’s lots of capacity for both U.S. students and international students to attend our higher education institutions. So I think it’s just really talking about what that means and how strong the U.S. higher education system is on a broad range. Yes?
MODERATOR: I think we have time for about two more questions, and then we’ll break.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Yes?
QUESTION: (WEN, Xian PEOPLE’S DAILY) Well, how about the contributions of Chinese students for American economy? Can you give us some figures?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Do you know the exact figure?
MR. GOODMAN: We don’t break them down by sending countries. We know that international students, about two-thirds of them, pay their own way coming here. And that’s a big contribution to our economy. It’s tuition; it’s room and board; it’s purchases in the local community. We think that last year that international students probably spent about $20 billion here.
QUESTION: (WU, Qing Cai CHINA NEWS SERVICE). Do you know how many American students now studying in China?
MR. GOODMAN: I’m going to turn to Patricia. (Laughter).
MS. CHOW: The most recent data we have is from 2008, 2009. I believe it’s on that handout paper fast facts. It’s approximately 13,000, I believe. So it’s just on the back –
ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Thirteen thousand, six seventy four, I think.
QUESTION: (WU, Qing Cai CHINA NEWS SERVICE ) Does the State Department have some plans to address this imbalance
MS.CHOW: Well, the State Department has addressed the imbalance. There are a lot of programs in place.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Well, and I also think that President Obama was speaking about a hundred thousand strong, which will be a private sector initiative over the next four years. And we are looking at various ways to try and make sure. We want more Americans to study abroad in as many places as they can study for whatever amount of time they can study. We see it as just that important.
QUESTION: I have a follow-up question.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Sure.
QUESTION: How to fulfill this aggressive goal of sending 100,000 students, American students, to China in the next four years, how to realize that?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: How to realize – our State Department, under Assistant Secretary Campbell, is basically addressing that initiative and looking at strategies and ways to do that. They’re working very, very closely with the private sector to figure out how to realize that aspirational goal.
MODERATOR: All right. And with that, we’d like to thank our two speakers.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY STOCK: Thank you very much for your time and your questions. I really appreciate it. (Applause.)

# # #