As part of Ohio’s effort to position the state as a premier destination for international students, Lt. Governor Mary Taylor and Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor John Carey kicked off a new Global Reach to Engage Academic Talent (GREAT) Initiative Wednesday.
Many officials of Ohio higher education were present at the unveiling of the program and website launch during a presentation at the Atrium Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. Some of the professionals present included Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor John Carey, Ohio Development Services Agency Director David Goodman, Ohio Board of Regents Chair Vinod Gupta, and Ohio Department of Higher Education Globalization Liaison Lauren McGarity.
The effort grew from Governor John R. Kasich’s Mid-Biennium Budget Review in 2014, which focused on new reforms to increase recruitment and enrollment of international students and to encourage them to remain in the state after graduation.
Currently, the 29,488 international student-visa holders enrolled in Ohio’s colleges and universities support 11,337 Ohio jobs, and contribute $827 million to the state’s economy, making post-secondary education of international students Ohio’s 15th largest export.
“Many institutions of higher education within Ohio have exemplary international programs, which invite students from abroad to study here while sending Ohio students to expand their education across the world,” Carey said. “Our goal is to expand Ohio’s international visibility in higher education, and leverage economic and workforce development potential.”
A goal of the new initiative is to increase the share of international college students in Ohio from 4.1 percent to 6 percent, which would generate an estimated $1.2 billion and support 17,000 jobs.
As of July, Ohio had more than 3,800 international establishments employing 215,650 Ohioans in a global capacity.
Vinod Gupta, chair of the Ohio Board of Regents, spoke about how powerful he believes Ohio education is, stating he believes no other state can deliver what Ohio can. He also spoke about the reputation of American education in foreign countries, as well as how eager students and families in foreign countries are to travel and experience America and its educational system.
“The greatest industry in America is the higher education institution. There is no other country, I repeat, no other country, that will ever match the education system of America,” Gupta said. “When you take a poll, and ask students across seas who would like to go to the United States of America, 95 percent would raise their hands. If you ask parents who would like their children to go to the United States of America, 100 percent would raise their hands.”
Gupta explained that he believes Ohio has a lot of potential, especially with higher education.
“We need to look at what is so great about Ohio values. We have not done very well, as a state, at marketing what we are good at, and I think it is about time we do so,” Gupta said. “The infrastructure is in place. We just need to put programming together to embrace Ohio education.”
Gupta has been traveling a lot in recent months, in order to prepare for the GREAT Initiative. Throughout his travels, he has heard of an effort to make Cincinnati the most immigrant friendly city in the country. He said that he has learned a lot from Cincinnati policies and would like to take their effort further.
“I say let’s take that one step further,” Gupta said. “Let us make Ohio the most immigrant friendly state in the country.”
A website devoted to the GREAT Initiative was launched during the kickoff event, which also featured the national release of a whitepaper about Ohio’s program from the Partnership for a New American Economy. The website can be accessed at www.ohio-great.us.
A walkthrough of the website was held at the conference, as the education officials explained that the site has a plethora of organized resources for possible exchange students to use. The site also has a dedicated page for a majority of Ohio universities, in which they discuss the various perks each offer.
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