The U.S. State Department is proposing to raise two fees related to the Exchange Visitor [J-1 visa] Program. Under the proposed changes, described in Wednesday’s Federal Register, the fee assessed for sponsor designation or re-designation would increase from $2,700 to $3,982, and the administrative fee charged for changes to a J-1 visa holder’s status (such as extensions or requests for reinstatement) would increase from $233 to $367.
Short-term visiting scholars fall under the Exchange Visitor Program, as do some students who are being supported by sources other than personal or family funds. Public comments on the proposal are being accepted through April 1.
On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the launch of the 100,000 Strong Foundation, which aims to expand opportunities for American students to learn Mandarin and study abroad in China. The foundation, housed at American University, in Washington, D.C., grows out of a U.S. State Department initiative to increase the number of Americans studying in China to 100,000 over four years. According to the latest numbers available, 14,596 Americans studied in China in 2010-11, representing a 4.9 percent increase from the previous year.
“What we’re trying to do as a foundation is to create a permanent, independent infrastructure around supporting study abroad and the study of Mandarin,” said Carola McGiffert, president of the 100,000 Strong Foundation and formerly a senior adviser to the assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs at the State Department.
The foundation is being established with $2 million in seed funding -- $1 million each from the Ford and Florence Fang Family Foundations. McGiffert said first steps will include launching a media campaign to promote study in China and raising funds for scholarships.
Somali universities, which suffered enrollment declines during civil war, are getting back to normal, without the threats of violence that deterred many students from enrolling. But The Guardian reported that students have a new fear: tuition levels that, for some, are difficult or impossible to pay.
An online petition campaign organized by Avaaz.org draws attention to the plight of Syrian students who are unable to pay tuition fees, including government-sponsored students whose tuition payments have been stopped. A statement released Friday by the Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, asked universities and funding agencies to exercise discretion over tuition and to use hardship funds to support students when possible. The statement notes that all institutions that enroll Syrian students through the Syrian Higher Education Capacity Building Project have agreed to waive or defer fees.