Deputy Assistant Secretary
US Department of Commerce
Under the MOU, Global Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh office of the U.S. Commercial Service will partner to support the Global Pittsburgh Education Partnership (GPEP), a consortium of Pittsburgh-area colleges, universities and graduate schools working together to increase their international enrollment and to facilitate collaboration with overseas educational institutions through its Study Pittsburgh initiative (www.studypittsburgh.org).
“We’re pleased to welcome Global Pittsburgh as a partner in our efforts to strengthen the U.S. economy and support local jobs through expanding U.S. exports,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez. “With more than 95 percent of potential customers living outside U.S. borders, it’s imperative that American companies of all sizes consider the benefits of selling their products abroad.”
The collaboration will promote the region as an international education destination around the world with particular focus on Vietnam, China, and Brazil. Activities will include joint presentations to university representatives, co-hosting of events and activities, and promotional services through Commercial Service offices worldwide.
GlobalPittsburgh, formerly the Pittsburgh Council for International Visitors, is a non-profit organization that engages international delegations, groups and individuals by creating itineraries and facilitating introductions through the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) and other international programming agencies in many fields, including energy and environment, life sciences and medicine, education, business and technology, clean/green design, advanced manufacturing, arts and culture, government and finance, social services and law, and other areas.
The Study Pittsburgh initiative was launched by GlobalPittsburgh in 2011 to increase international student enrollment in the Greater Pittsburgh Region, and already works with the U.S. Department of State’s EducationUSA program to promote educational opportunities in Pittsburgh around the world.
Antwaun Griffin, Deputy Assistant Commerce Secretary for Domestic Operations, who oversees the Commercial Service, said that while education is often overlooked as an export, it is one of the most important and valuable exports the United States has to offer.
“From an economic perspective, international students studying in America make a meaningful economic contribution in their pocket books…but also in the relationships and shared experiences that are created on campuses,” he said. “Attracting foreign students is an important part of public diplomacy and economic development.”
Consortium groups like the GlobalPittsburgh Education Partnership are very important in the Commercial Service’s mission to achieve President Obama’s stated goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014, Griffin said.
“The consortium here has realized great benefits for us. There is competition between countries for international students. It is fierce. And as colleges and universities are looking to expand their international student populations…, consortiums [like this] represent an excellent opportunity and one that we at the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service really want to take advantage of.
“They are a valuable resource for the educational members as well as for the associated geographic region like here in the Pittsburgh area," he said. "They allow participating colleges and universities to pool their limited resources to expand their international outreach and profile, and they increase the profile of the city and surrounding region as an education center.”
Increasing the number of international students in the region has many positive benefits. For universities it means higher enrollment numbers, often at full tuition, greater on-campus diversity as a positive recruiting tool, an expanding global alumni network, and greater visibility in a worldwide and increasingly competitive education market.
In economic terms, international students make a significant positive impact, contributing an estimated $2.6 million to the regional economy for every 100 international students enrolled at regional colleges and universities, according to the Institute for International Education.
The new agreement also will serve as a template for many of GlobalPittsburgh’s sister organizations around the United States in the National Council for International Visitors (NCIV), which also signed a similar MOU today with the U.S. Commercial Service, according to NCIV President Jennifer Clinton.
"This partnership will help NCIV members raise the international profile of their community and create vital person-to-person ties that further international understanding, collaboration, and development," Dr. Clinton said. “The new NCIV-USFCS partnership will allow globally focused organizations to join together to help build stronger connections between American entrepreneurs and their international counterparts."
The partnership is part of the National Exporters Initiative (NEI). In 2010, President Obama announced the NEI with the goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014. The partnership supports this goal by educating U.S. exporters about the benefits of exporting and expanding their exports to additional markets, and the public and private sector resources to assist them.
The U.S. Commercial Service is the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. U.S. Commercial Service trade professionals in more than 100 U.S. cities and in more than 70 countries help U.S. companies get started in exporting or increase sales to new global markets. Visit www.trade.gov/cs to learn more.
The National Council for International Visitors is a nonprofit membership association with 50 years of leadership in citizen diplomacy. NCIV serves the international exchange community and helps build person-to-person relationships "one handshake at a time." Membership includes a nationwide network of more than 90 Community Member Organizations, National Program Agencies, Associate Member Organizations, and individuals. For more information, go to www.nciv.org.
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For information about GlobalPittsburgh, go to www.globalpittsburgh.org.