Consortium groups like the GlobalPittsburgh Education Partnership (GPEP) which drives the Study Pittsburgh initiative 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," he said. "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."
Griffin made his remarks during the signing ceremony for a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Global Pittsburgh and the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration to work together to broaden the exposure of Pittsburgh area colleges, universities and English Language programs to international students and to promote the region as an international education destination.
FULL TRANSCRIPT OF DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY GRIFFIN'S REMARKS:
“Education is often overlooked as an export, but education is in fact a very valuable export. From an economic perspective, international students studying in America make meaningful economic contributions in their pocketbook – you know, there is a lot of bad pizza being bought in college towns around the country – but also in relationships and shared experiences that are created on campuses, beyond school use. Attracting foreign students to study in the United States is an important part of public diplomacy and economic development.
"From the 2010-2011 school year alone, international student enrollment in U.S. colleges and universities grew about more than 200,000 students, which represented a 5.7% increase and like I said, that overall economic impact of international students studying here is at least 21 billion US dollars so...that's a lot of Domino's pizza.
"Specific to the Pittsburgh region, the immediate Pittsburgh area has hosted 10 area colleges and universities with an estimated economic impact of nearly 214 million US dollars.... the U.S. Association of International Educators, ‘As a region, Southwestern Pennsylvania is the home to more than 20 universities, with a combined economic impact of over $250 million. This region's schools represent some of the leading programs in computer science, medicine, engineering, business, and performing arts.'
"Those are all things that the governments supports, but we don't do great. So, that speaks more to our role in connecting institutional players. 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 regions, like here in the Pittsburgh area. They allow participating colleges and universities to pool limited resources to expand their international outreach opportunities and profiles. They further raise the profile of the city, state, and region, as a study destination, and provide quality education.
"Our team at the U.S. Commercial Services works with several states to assist in the development of state wide educational consortiums and support consortiums at our trade shows, and specialized economic development activities and events. At the signing of this agreement at the end of the day, I will be working with [NCIV President Jennifer Clinton and her staff] to proliferate the country and work to engage more and more of these types of strategic partnerships around the country.
"The Foreign and Commercial Service, NCIV and GlobalPittsburgh, are well positioned to help Pittsburgh and the consortium's colleges and universities to strive and grow. It is through this work together, that we will plan to focus on the markets of Vietnam, Brazil, and China, at least initially, with many more to come.
"As a team, we are looking for avenues to develop insights for schools, to better understand the educational markets in these countries, and to find effective means for developing broad recognition of participating schools in this region as an education destination. The collective goal of our partnership is to see an increase in international students at each of these participating schools as well as more partnerships and collaboration between participating schools and foreign educational institutions. So, it is with great pleasure and pride, that I am here to today to support you, and congratulate you and sign these partnerships."