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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

FACT SHEET: Fulfilling Leaders’ Instructions on Quality in Higher Education

As the global financial crisis swept the APEC region and the world, APEC Leaders emphasized the importance of education and training as a major pillar of APEC’s inclusive growth strategy.  APEC has since focused more explicitly on access to quality higher education and the role of postsecondary cross-border education mobility as an important part of APEC’s regional economic integration agenda.  In 2012, APEC Leaders recognized that “increasing cross-border student flows will strengthen regional ties, build people to people exchanges, and promote economic development through knowledge and skills transfer. High quality cross-border education equips students with the 21st century competencies they need for their full participation in a globalized and knowledge based society.”  Last year, APEC Leaders introduced a new Framework of Connectivity and cited postsecondary cross-border education as a major part of the people-to-people connectivity agenda.  They committed to the setting of 2020 regional student mobility goals, as well as other education goals shared by all 21 APEC Economies, and in 2013 APEC Leaders endorsed the “target of 1 million intra-APEC university-level students by year 2020,” recognizing that access to quality higher education through student mobility helps developing economies enhance workforce capacity to ensure sustainable development.

To better promote the Leaders’ Connectivity agenda through cross-border education cooperation that can stimulate growth in the region, the United States has been advancing the following initiatives in cooperation with APEC economies:

APEC Scholarships and Internships Initiative

The United States and other APEC members announced this week the APEC Scholarship and Internship initiative, which will provide new APEC-branded scholarship and internship opportunities and will also provide links to major websites on other existing scholarships in the APEC region.  Responding directly to the commitments made by Leaders in 2012 and 2013 to promote cross-border education, the initiative aims to expand education and training opportunities for students and professionals.

All three of the U.S. ABAC member companies—Caterpillar, Eli Lilly, and Microsoft— as well as GE, EMD (Merck) Serono, Colorado State University, the University of Colorado, and the University of Washington Evans School are partnering with APEC and the United States to offer more than thirty scholarships and paid internships for cross-border opportunities in the APEC region.  Australia, China, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, Chinese Taipei, the Philippines, and Singapore have also announced that they will make scholarship and internship opportunities available in their economies, totaling over 150 total cross-border opportunities announced through the APEC Scholarship and Internship initiative.

Apart from this, through the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Government provides nearly $50 million each year alongside other partner governments to support the exchange of more than 2,000 students and scholars between the United States and APEC economies. The U.S. Government also offers EducationUSA advisory services in person and online in all APEC economies for students seeking accurate, current, and comprehensive information about opportunities to study at accredited U.S. colleges and universities.

Data Collection

In support of APEC’s student mobility target, the United States, with support from Australia, launched the first phase of a five-year project, APEC Education Mobility Data Collection Survey and Report, in July 2014.  For each member economy, the survey responses will be compiled into economy-level reports that will 1) identify key stakeholders in international education mobility, 2) document domestic data collection methodologies and indicators, and 3) show current trends in in-bound and out-bound education mobility.  Furthermore, the information collected will be used to establish a baseline of APEC economies’ current education data collection efforts, which could then inform potential capacity building efforts to support APEC economies in tracking mobility.  Many economies have national data collection organizations, but the data collection process currently varies widely from economy to economy in terms of methodology, frequency of data collection, key definitions, and scope.  By aligning regional data collection methodologies and practices, APEC members can utilize that foundation to identify gaps in student mobility and opportunities to further promote regional educational exchanges in the lead up to 2020.