I’ve just spent a fascinating few days in Washington DC at the American Council on Education’s Annual Meeting. This is the must-go-to gathering for US college presidents and provosts.

During the conference, there was considerable domestic focus to discussions. Presidents and provosts expressed their concerns about maintaining diversity on campus, the implications for graduate employment given growing automation and prospects for the 3000 undocumented students (‘Dreamers’) on US college campuses.

But there were very few conversations around international activity. Surely college leadership also need to ensure their graduates are prepared to flourish in careers alongside colleagues educated in very different or in multiple cultural settings?

Really, for an international education ‘lifer’ like me, it was unusual to have so few conversations about international partnerships, exchanges and collaborations. After all, as a strategic partner to the US Department of Commerce and the UK Department for International Trade, all Sannam S4’s efforts are directed to supporting universities and colleges develop their international activities.

For over a year now, we have been seeing increasing levels of interest in the US – UK education corridor, our North American client list has been growing steadily and we will be announcing a significant appointment in the US team in the next few weeks.

As I write, President Trump’s ‘America First’ budget has just been unveiled. Presidents and provosts will be relieved that the Pell Grant, which supports low-income students, will keep its funding; but worrying cuts to some student aid programmes and science agencies have been proposed.

So, it looks like there will be much to occupy Presidents and Provosts on the domestic front for the foreseeable future. It will be interesting to see how much has changed by the time we come back for NAFSA in May with our ‘California Partnerships’ delegation.

Zoe Marlow is Head of UK Client Relations (Education). Sannam S4 will be hosting a delegation of UK universities at selected institutions in California on 5-6 June 2017. Please feel free to reach her for more information.

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