Top schoolsThe US is a great place to study [Archives:2004/800/Opinion]

December 20 2004

By Ambassador Thomas C. Krajeski
For The Yemen Times

The growth of the international student population in the United States over the years has been a source of pride and benefit to our institutions of higher education. As Ambassador, I have met the leaders of a number of American colleges and universities, and to the person, they have stressed the importance and contributions of foreign students in their respective academic environments. And here in Yemen, I have had the privilege of meeting the alumni of American institutions of higher education and hearing first hand of their experiences in the United States.
According to the Institute of International Education (IIE), an independent non-profit exchange organization based in New York, the number of international students in the United States grew from about 34,000 in the 1954-55 academic year to nearly 600,000 in 2002-2003. The U.S. is home to many of the world's finest educational institutions, and our colleges and universities remain eager to accept qualified students from abroad. International students bring cultural and intellectual diversity to our campuses and communities and promote greater understanding between U.S. citizens and people in other societies.
EducationUSA advising centers around the world provide advice and assistance to those students wishing to study in the United States. These centers assist millions of young people every year around the globe. (To find the center nearest you, visit the State Department's website, We welcome and want to encourage international students to come to the U.S. TO STUDY. Although we have implemented new measures to make our borders and the traveling public more secure, we have not changed the basic criteria for visa eligibility to visit or study in the United States. Unfortunately, many international students mistakenly believe that our visa refusal rates have risen dramatically or, even worse, that it is impossible to obtain a visa to enter the United States. In fact, our visa issuance rates are almost the same as they were prior to the events of September 11,2001.
We are working to make the process of acquiring a student visa to study in the United States easier and quicker. The new SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) program electronically links the college and university admission process directly to our consular offices around the world, ensuring that this key information about student admission flows smoothly and quickly.
Now, thanks to a special program developed specifically for international students, U.S. Embassies and Consulates make special arrangements to ensure that all applicants for student visas receive expedited processing for an interview. In that way they can arrive in the U.S. in time to participate in international student orientation programs at their institution and, of course, to attend the first day of class.
The central theme of my message in this: we want students from other countries to take advantage of the exceptional educational opportunities in the United States. Among these are universities and colleges of all descriptions and types, from rural institutions to urban campuses, from small two- and four-year colleges, and women's colleges, to large research universities.
Although U.S. colleges and universities are diverse, they do share many common attributes, flexibility, individual attention, close collaboration between students and professors, hands-on learning and access to the best facilities in the world. International students who enroll in a U.S. educational institution will also have the opportunity to live in and learn about our open and culturally diverse country.
If you are thinking about your own educational future, I strongly recommend that you consider higher education in the United States. With over 3,600 fully accredited institutions of higher education, America offers numerous options from which to choose. Please visit the EducationUSA advising center closest to you for more information. When you do, you will find that the United States is not only a welcoming, safe place to visit, but a great place to study.