March 31, 1998
Release No. 15-98
CONTACT: Lois Herrmann
PHONE: (202) 619-4365

United States Information Agency
- News Release


Washington, D.C. -- the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, Inc., and NAFSA: Association of International Educators today announced a series of temporary measures to assist Asian students at U.S. colleges and universities affected by currency devaluations and economic uncertainty in their home countries.

Speaking about the temporary assistance for Asian students, USIA Director Joseph Duffey said: "The government and educational communities are grateful to the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council and its corporate and foundation sponsors for the leading role they are playing in assisting Asian students in the United States. International students bring large economic and cultural benefits to the U.S. universities and communities in which they live and most go on to positions of leadership in their home countries. Providing a small amount of 'stop gap' assistance to these students is in the U.S. national interest."

According to Department of Commerce estimates, foreign students in the U.S. contribute about seven and a half billion dollars to the American economy annually. More than 80,000 students from Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand -- the countries most affected by currency devaluations -- were enrolled in U.S. institutions of higher education in 1996-97. A recent survey indicated that nearly 10 per cent of students from these countries did not return for the spring semester this year or dropped out after it began. The decline in numbers of students from South Korea was the largest, with half of the U.S. campuses surveyed reporting losses of up to 20 per cent.

Temporary measures to assist impacted students include:

Partial Scholarships Funded by the Private Sector - USIA intends to provide an administrative grant supporting fundraising efforts for partial scholarships to highly qualified and financially needy students from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand currently studying in the United States. The U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, Inc. is working with corporate and foundation sponsors to provide approximately two million dollars for scholarships. NAFSA: Association of International Educators will administer the grants along the lines of a successful "top up" model used to provide assistance from Eastern Europe and the New Independent States. Sponsors of the fund will include Unocal Corporation, The Starr Foundation, Ford Motor Company, Hambrecht & Quist Asia Pacific, and Consolidated National Gas Intl.

U.S. college and university information clearinghouse - With a grant from USIA, NAFSA is establishing an information clearinghouse available on its internet home page. The clearinghouse is gathering information on how U.S. colleges and universities are most effectively assisting their students with financial difficulties.

Educational Advising - USIA will reinforce its educational advising efforts in affected countries to inform potential students of the relief mechanisms being offered to students by universities, corporations, and foundations.

Immigration and Naturalization Service - USIA and the Department of State have encouraged the Immigration and Naturalization Service to grant exceptions to current regulations restricting the ability of foreign students to work; to expedite hardship employment applications; and to consider other measures to assist Asian students.

Voice of America - USIA's Voice of America, Worldnet Television network, and its Washington File news service are doing extensive reporting for broadcast to Asia on the response of U.S. universities to individual students affected by the crisis.

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