Education Trade Mission Builds Ties Between United States and Central Europe

April 13, 2012

Adam Wilczewski is Chief of Staff at the International Trade Administration.

This week 12 regionally accredited U.S. academic institutions will take part in the first-of-its-kind education trade mission to Poland and the Czech Republic. The trade mission, which I will have the opportunity to lead, is part of a larger effort to increase the number of foreign students studying in the United States.

According to Times Higher Education, the United States is home to more than 4,000 accredited higher education institutions, and 14 of the top 20 universities in the world. Furthermore, the Institute of International Education reports there are more international students (in excess of 723,000) studying at U.S. institutions than anywhere else in the world.

University sign in autumn

(Photo iStock/Steve Shepard)

U.S. colleges and universities, such as those on this mission, place a prime importance on keeping their campuses internationally diverse, so that students can gain the most rewarding educational experience possible. And recent developments show that there is both great interest and opportunities for U.S. colleges and universities to recruit students from both Poland and the Czech Republic.

With the passage of new legislation last October, Poland is streamlining the education process—thereby raising educational standards that may further increase interest in study abroad programs such as those in the United States. Poland also has a high concentration of young students with keen interest in higher education. The country’s population of 38 million includes more than 5.5 million young people from 15 to 24 years of age, including 1.9 million students. Moreover, Polish students have a strong affinity toward the United States, and English is the first choice for a second language by almost all high school and university students.

Similarly, the number of Czech students with outstanding English language skills continues to outpace many of their neighbors in the region, improving the ability of Czech students to study at U.S. universities and colleges. And current exchange rates and the visa waiver program are making U.S. educational opportunities an increasingly attractive alternative.

Recognizing these trends points to the eagerness of the educational institutions from across the country to join me on this trade mission.

During the trade mission, our delegation will participate in student recruitment fairs in Prague and Warsaw to connect with students from European universities, secondary schools, and businesses. Trade professionals from the U.S. Department of Commerce based abroad will also be on hand to facilitate networking opportunities and meetings between our delegation and prominent Czech and Polish universities.

We look forward to visiting Warsaw and Prague, and with this, the goal of opening new doors of opportunity and cultural understanding for the next generation. By furthering the avenues to higher learning, we are also supporting economic growth both at home and abroad – and that is something to write home about.

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