Posted at 12:25 PM
Indian Hills Community College (IHCC) recently recruited international students from El Salvador to their rural Iowa campus with the help of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Indian Hills, ranked in the top 10% of all community colleges in the nation since 2011 by the Aspen Institute, expressed the need to connect with international partners in an affordable and reliable way. IHCC features various studies relating to diversity—and aims to place international students from a variety of countries on their own campus. Both elite private institutions and high-quality public colleges and universities benefit from foreign students attending, many of whom pay the full out-of-state tuition price. In fact, education and training rank among the top 10 U.S. services exports.
In December 2013, the Department of Commerce and Department of State organized a webinar with Education USA to discuss ways to promote United States higher education to Salvadoran students. Following the webinar, the Des Moines U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) connected IHCC with the US Commercial Service Education Team in El Salvador. Through this effort, IHCC welcomed five El Salvadorian students with a value of $80,000 in the first year of hosting students. Additionally, in March of 2015, Indian Hills signed an MOU with Universidad Don Bosco de El Salvador to explore the possibility of exchanging even more students looking for study abroad opportunities. The growth of IHCC’s study abroad program, says Director of International Affairs Freddy Miranda, is a direct result of the USEAC’s assistance in providing both useful international recruiting events as well as an introductory point of connection with El Salvador.
Education is an often overlooked yet extremely valuable export that the United States can continue to progress by furthering trade agreements not just in El Salvador, but also in broader areas such as Central and South America. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker aims to tackle export issues such as these in her upcoming visit to Brazil next week. Increasing exports simply by connecting foreign students with American universities can have a huge impact on global economic ties, as well as global educational partnerships. Commerce’s International Trade Administration offers more information about education as an export on their website at http://export.gov/industry/education/index.asp.
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