U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes says “the United States and India are engaging more actively and constructively than ever before on a wide range of issues – from technology to agriculture, from poverty alleviation to space exploration, from combating disease to reducing pollution.” U.S.-India trade, says Ms. Hughes, is also growing. Success in these mutual endeavors, she says, ultimately depends on education:
“We have a very broad dialogue with India, a very broad global, strategic partnership. And when you think about the areas in which we are cooperating: whether it be energy, or agriculture, or high-tech issues, education is foundational to all of them. And so we think we really have an opportunity on. . . .to expand that partnership.”
Under Secretary Hughes's trip to India with a delegation of American university presidents, and a similar one to Asia led by Education Secretary Margaret Spellings and Assistant Secretary of State Dina Powell, reflects a unique form of cooperation between senior government officials and American institutions of higher learning. The university presidents represent national sectors, not their institutions, and also the diversity of American higher education, from community colleges to institutions of advanced research. These cooperative ventures are a direct outgrowth of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's Summit of U.S. University Presidents on Higher Education held in 2006.
Ms. Hughes told a conference of American and Indian business leaders that the U.S. “wants to open its doors even wider to students from India, and we want more American young people to travel to India to study and learn.”
India is already the number one country in the world sending students to the United States for higher education. The U.S. said Ms. Hughes, is working hard to facilitate educational exchanges with India as well as other countries. During 2006, the number of U.S. student exchange visas issued reached an all-time high of more than five-hundred-ninety-thousand. Student visas to the U.S. were up fifteen percent worldwide in 2006, and up more than thirty percent in India.
Under Secretary of State Karen Hughes says education “is still the best escape route from poverty” and “essential to fostering understanding and respect for those who have different backgrounds, faiths, ideas, and views.”