Following September 11, 2001, the number of international students coming to the United States dropped for the first time in over 30 years. While enrollments have rebounded, the U.S. image has declined in the Muslim world and elsewhere. To improve global attitudes toward America, the U.S. government funds higher education for international students to facilitate exchanges, promote understanding among peoples in different countries, and build capacity in developing nations. To provide insight on how higher education is used to advance public diplomacy and development assistance goals, we examined (1) the objectives the United States and selected peer governments seek to advance through higher education for international students and the approaches they employ to attract international students, and (2) the characteristics of major U.S. and peer government programs that fund higher education for international students to support public diplomacy and development goals. GAO collected information from the United States, Australia, China, the European Commission, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
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