Paul Simon Study Abroad Act Reintroduced to Senate

Senators recognize that study abroad prepares U.S. students to compete globally
American Councils Diversity Scholarship Fund has supported 65 students across seven study abroad programs in 11 different countries
U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Roger Wicker
(R-MS), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) today introduced the bipartisan Senator
Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act, which creates a competitive grant
program for institutions of higher education to expand study abroad
opportunities for American college students.  Study abroad is an important
component of a well-rounded post-secondary education, giving students the
opportunity to engage with other cultures, enhance foreign language skills, and
expand international knowledge through firsthand experience.  Named after
the late Illinois U.S. Senator Paul Simon – who preached the value of
international education as vital to the United States’ economic and national
security – this bill aims to increase the number and diversity of undergraduate
students studying abroad annually to one million within ten years. 
“Senator Paul Simon always knew the value
of having an understanding of how the world works and how we are all
interconnected in one way or another,” Durbin said. “This bill builds on
Senator Simon’s vision by vastly expanding opportunities for American students
to study abroad. By giving the next generation of students the chance to learn
away from home, and gain experiences that can shape their worldview, we will
better prepare them to lead successful lives.”
“American students studying abroad are
ambassadors for our values and ideals.  When they return home, they bring
the knowledge, language proficiency, and cultural understanding necessary to
compete and build ties in our increasingly globalized economy,” Wicker said.
“Senator Paul Simon understood the importance of these programs, and this act
builds on his legacy.”
“Senator Simon knew that study abroad is
an investment that multiplies over time and in many ways.  It’s an
enriching experience for students, for their communities and for the nation,” Leahy said.
“The proposed Senator Paul Simon Study
Abroad Program Act is an excellent example of leaders working together to open
opportunities for college students to learn about the world and gain insights
that will help them thrive in the future,” said Esther D. Brimmer, NAFSA
Executive Director and CEO.
“The United States needs to vastly and
rapidly increase the number and diversity of its students studying
abroad.  The Simon Act would help do exactly that,” said Association
of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) President Peter McPherson, who
served as Chair of the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Commission. “Study
abroad experience is indispensable in today’s global economy. And crucially,
the Simon bill would increase the number of students studying in
non-traditional countries, especially in the developing world. We thank
Senators Durbin and Wicker for their work crafting bipartisan legislation that
would significantly strengthen America’s economic and strategic standing in the
world through more skilled, globally fluent college graduates.”
Currently, less than two percent of all
enrolled post-secondary students in the U.S. participate in study abroad, and
participation isn’t representative of the broad diversity seen on today’s
college campuses. 
The goals of the Paul Simon Study Abroad
Program are the following:
Increase the overall number of
undergraduate students studying abroad annually to one million students
within ten years; Increase the number of minority
students, first-generation
college students, community college students, and students with
disabilities studying abroad, so that the demographics of study abroad
participation reflect the demographics of the undergraduate population;
and Increase the number of students
who study abroad in nontraditional destinations, with an emphasis on
developing countries, while
maintaining health and safety guidelines and procedures informed by
Department of State travel advisories and other appropriate Federal
agencies and resources. Durbin first
introduced this legislation in 2006 as the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Act
based on the recommendations of the Commission on the Abraham Lincoln Study
Abroad Fellowship Program – of which Durbin was a member. 
This bill is supported by NAFSA:
Association of International Educators, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities,
American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese Metro New York
Chapter, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers,
American Association of Community Colleges, American Association of Teachers of
French, American Association of Teachers of German, American Association of
Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, American Council on Education, American
Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, American Councils for
International Education, Arizona Language Association, Association of American
Universities, CETRA Language Solutions, Computer-Assisted Language Instruction
Consortium, Connecticut Council of Language Teachers, Diversity Abroad Network,
Dual Language Education of New Mexico, Foreign Language Association of Georgia,
Forum on Education Abroad, Fund for Education Abroad, Glastonbury Public
Schools, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, IES Abroad,
Institute of International Education, International Association for Language
Learning Technology, Joint National Committee for Languages, Language Magazine, Linguistic Society
of America, Massachusetts Foreign Language Association, Modern Language
Association of Philadelphia and Vicinity, National Association for College
Admission Counseling, National Committee for Latin and Greek, National Council
for Languages and International Studies, National Education Association,
National Network for Early Language Learning, New York State Association of
Foreign Language Teachers, Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign
Languages, Partners of the Americas, Pennsylvania State University, New
Kensington Campus, Southwest Conference on Language Teaching, Wisconsin
Association for Language Teachers, World Learning / School for International


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