Academic Programs International has received a license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control to operate short- and long-term study abroad programs in Cuba, making it the first study abroad provider organization to announce that it had earned such approval. While regulations released back in 2011 cleared the way for U.S colleges to resume exchange programs in Cuba, the provider organizations were required to submit applications for "specific" licenses – applications that heretofore have gone unapproved. Those in the study abroad field who have been involved in discussions with U.S. government officials say they have been told to expect that other pending applications by study abroad providers will be acted upon shortly.
"This is really an opening that will increase student participation going forward,” said Brian Whalen, president and CEO of the Forum on Education Abroad, which has been advocating on the providers’ behalf. Whalen noted that Forum data show that about 50 percent of colleges' study abroad programs are run in collaboration with providers.
“We’ll see more programs being developed, more universities being able to offer the experience to their students," he said.