Dispatches from 2019 EducationUSA Forum, Washington, DC

August 2nd, 2018


For the uninitiated, EducationUSA is a “U.S. Department of State network of over 425 international student advising centers in 178 countries. The network promotes U.S. higher education to students around the world by offering accurate, comprehensive, and current information about opportunities to study at accredited postsecondary institutions in the United States. EducationUSA also provides services to the U.S. higher education community to help institutional leaders meet their recruitment and campus internationalization goals. EducationUSA is your official source on U.S. higher education.”

Each year, EducationUSA hosts its Forum in Washington, DC bringing together representatives from U.S. higher education institutions and EducationUSA REAC (Regional Educational Advising Coordinators) and Advisors. For the first time this year, EducationUSA opened its registration to non-U.S. HEIs such as NGOs, agents, and third party service providers such as credential evaluation organizations. On the first day of the forum, as a first time attendee, I decided to attend the sessions offering the regional overviews where REACs and Advisors offered first hand information on the regions and countries they represent.

The overviews in most cases are general snapshots of the current state of a country’s economy, student population and trends concerning study abroad. Here’s a brief summary of some the key takeaways from the sessions I attended:

South American Overview

  • 10% of international students coming to the U.S. are from this region
  • There is a rise in the number of students coming to the U.S. from the Caribbean
  • Uruguay is showing a 25.8% increase in number of students it sends to the U.S.
  • Colombia receives a large number of students from the U.S. for study abroad
  • Colombia and Ecuador favor the U.S. as a study abroad destination


  • Impacted by the 2019-2010 local political changes
  • Growing middle class
  • English is a barrier
  • Has strong economy but not sustainable
  • Central and regional governments have put in place a scholarship initiative
  • Visits to Bolivia by U.S. HEIs yield immediate results


  • Students and their parents seek affordable options for their international education
  • Government offers scholarships mostly at the graduate level
  • Has strong local universities which are well-positioned for partnerships with U.S.
  • HEIs
  • COLFUTURO is an NGO set up to help with partnerships between institutions


  • Experiencing an economic recession
  • Changes in local education policies might make parents sent their children overseas
  • Other countries have a strong presence in Ecuador to recruit students
  • Coastal and highland regions are very different and require different recruitment strategies
    Enjoys a strong network of local institutions


  • Government invests in higher education
  • Quality of education at the high school level has improved
  • Increase interest from Peruvians to study abroad
  • Local economic environment has students concerned about their education and future employment opportunities


  • U.S. Embassy in Caracas is temporarily closed
  • Visas are issued at U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia
  • Venezuelans are applying for admission to U.S. HEIs while based in other countries

Southern Cone Region: Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay

  • Safety and security is not as much of a concern since their own regions have security issues
  • China is a big competitor, e.g. Confucius Institute
  • Canada, Australia, France, German and Portugal (focus on Brazil) are the other big players in the region
  • Foreign governments offer scholarships and affordable higher education
  • Student mobility from the southern cone regions of S. America is on the rise
  • Big trend is Brazil’s partnership programs at the Grade 10-12 levels.


  • Creation of the Math, Science, Technology, Innovation and Knowledge initiative in 2019
  • Chilean universities looking to internationalizing their campuses


  • Showing interest in internationalization and partnerships


  • Popular fields of study for its students studying abroad: Law (LLM), Social Sciences,
  • Business/Economics, Engineering, Computer Science and Design

Europe and Eurasia Overview
U.S. HEIs would need to highlight the following features of U.S. education to attract students from this region:

  • Liberal Arts education
  • Internships, Co-ops and OPTs after graduation
  • Financial incentives (e.g. merit-based or athletic scholarships)
  • The multicultural aspects of U.S. college campuses
  • Research takes place at the smallest and largest HEIs
  • Vibrancy of campus communities that provide a fully immersive experience
  • English language skill development

Additional takeaways:

  • Top majors favored by Ukrainian students include Business, STEM, and Law (LLM)
  • Germany, France, UK, and The Netherlands are the key competitors of U.S. as they offer more affordable higher education and have 3-year degrees
  • U.S. HEIs would need to attend more education fairs in Europe and show their presence
  • Hold webinars
  • Use alumni to help promote
  • There has been an increase of 40% in the number of Albanian students studying in the U.S. in the past 5 years and majority are enrolled at U.S. community colleges
  • Serbia is showing interest for study abroad
  • Russian students are supported by families who have funds to support their study abroad
  • 50% of Belgian students in the U.S. are enrolled in undergraduate programs, some are enrolled in short-term program and some are part of student-exchange and language programs. Why? Less time spent time from home.
  • Most popular short-term programs: England language
  • Countries with large number of ESL students: Switzerland, France, Germany, and Russia

I also attended the following sessions: East Asia & Pacific Region Overview; Advancing Institutional Partnerships in Europe and Eurasia; Recruiting in Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh; Recruiting in Francophone Africa. There is still one more day left before the EdUSA Forum ends, but for the purpose of this blog, I’ll stop here and hope to have more to share in a follow-up post.

Before I forget, Assistant Secretary of State, Mary Royce spoke at the luncheon yesterday. I best leave you with a link to the article written about her speech issued by InsideHigherEducation as I will not be able to do it justice. In a nut shell, Ms. Royce painted a disturbing picture of Chinese students studying at U.S. institutions. As the article asks: was hers a “welcome message or a warning?” Unfortunately, the attendees saw nothing welcoming about the message.

Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the President and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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